Early morning –
I am driving on the parkway during the pre hours of sunrise, rainy, wet streets and heavy droplets of rain are crashing like tiny kamikazes into the flesh of my windshield. I am tired, thinking of course, and finding myself lost in the vault-full of ideas that come to me at this hour.
This is the mind on autopilot.
I am moving at a pace which is north of the speed limit and I am consciously aware but subconsciously, I am someplace else.
The rainfall is cyclical, which means the rain moves from light to heavy and then back again. The roads are slick which is cause for attention and still, I am at attention on the surface. Subconsciously, I am someplace else, like, say, in my own world and reliving conversations that came to me the night before. It’s not bad though. The conversation, I mean. Or the comments that went on.
I do this from time to time – admittedly, rehearse old dialogues as if they might happen again. I relive previous conversations as a means to create a different outcome yet the outcome is unchangeable. However, I suppose in my moments of doubt or insecurity, I wished I was quicker. I wish I was quicker with a comeback or response so that times like this would never occur – but they still do. I admit to this. The morning after, me driving in the rain, mindlessly and thinking about useless thoughts as unalterable as yesterday’s news. And so says the prayer, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
It is not this that I work for. It is not the applause or the accolades or even the validation. It is not the pat on the back or the celebration of my efforts. However, it is often a distraction of mine that out of fear – I look for approval as if to say, “It’s okay. You’re good.”
I do not regard this as weak or as sad or as anything in between. Instead, I regard this as an honest assessment of my thoughts. I see this as a moment of truth; therefore, I can choose to do either of two things. I can adapt, adjust to overcome or I can sink and submit.
Still driving . . . .
The road I’m on is straight and the sky is beginning to change from black to light. It is not far from me to think about my future as opposed to the remnants of my past. It is also not far from me to think about my plans and the present, which is now.
There are so many paths we take. Yet, there are so many turns and discoveries. There are countless successes achieved on a daily basis but for some reason, we allow ourselves to be distracted by our little missteps or incremental failures.
“Just keep going,” they tell us.
I am not working for a living, per se. Instead, I am working for optionality. I am working for the freedoms that optionality buys. I am not here for the food and friends but at the same time, I am not here to be miserable either. I say this as a testament to what we look to achieve in life.
I say this as a person who is on little sleep and speeding towards the City, as in Manhattan, to cross over the George Washington Bridge and find myself in a place where I have worked for years. I say this as a person who has been part of a machine that has been oiled at times and dry in others. I say this as a person who has experienced both wealth and poverty. I know what it means to be a spoke or a cog or a part of the system, which is fine because at last, I have decided to make this system work for me.
I am driving fast to make the clock; yet, I am in no rush because nothing can start without me. Nothing can happen to my life without my say so or permission.
So, again – the question I ask myself is the same question I ask everyone.
When is it your turn to have the life you want, AND, when is it your time to give yourself permission to make this happen.
The rainfall has been angry for a while. The chatter of the droplets on the windshield and the roof of my car has been relentless yet, I don’t mind the sound. I don’t mind the rain or the dampness of the morning because in my eyes, this is Mother Earth’s way of cleansing the ground to calm the dust of our crazy little lives.
And do you know what?
I want to rethink my options and retrace my steps in the sense that I am not missing something or looking to find what I’ve overlooked; but more, I am retracing my steps to learn a lesson. What I mean is: I want to see the big picture. I want to learn. I want to grow.
I don’t want to lose sight of my plans, simply because my focus was interrupted by outcomes instead of my efforts.
And to this I say:
“We are in the effort business. Not the outcome business.”
I have heard this at least a thousand times and although I forget to regard this lesson, I am driving now, fully-alert that my pathway has nothing to do with anyone else’s perception or approval.
Or, as it was said by me a long time ago: “My redemption has nothing to do with your response.” Therefore, my ability to see my actions must remain clear; therefore, my focus on my efforts and attention to my details has to remain intact. Otherwise, I run the risk of slipping back to old patterns of troubled thoughts, regrets and an inaccurate belief systems that rendered me as useless
I am closer now to the City. I can see the bridge coming up on my left. I can see the City, which I call “Mine” and the buildings which have been part of my playground for nearly half of a century.
I can see my thoughts and my dreams and remember my critical laziness.
I was younger and caught in the mindset of, “Oh well. I guess this’ll do.” But I have outgrown this, which means it is time to shed my old skin and be new or “young again.”
I can recall my old predictions which I have gratefully outgrown the wonderful lies that I used to pose for. I can see myself now, different of course, and older to say the least. I am not neither unforgivably young nor too old or anywhere between the segments of right or wrong.
Instead, I am on the verge of a new beginning. I am brand new, each day – and as close as I am, there is a misty fear that perhaps I am still too far away. Perhaps I’ll never “make it” or, perhaps this is a misjudgment of sight or the lack thereof. I tell you this openly and as a person who is moving to the best of my ability, full steam ahead.
I am not here to record my facts for applause. I am not looking to be charitable for a suitable response nor am I here to be the hero to anyone else, except for myself.
However, I believe in charity. I believe this begins at home, with me. However, I also believe that charity is not meant to be bragged or boasted about because if it is, then this isn’t charitable at all. Therefore, whatever I do or whatever I give is not done to be thanked or to be congratulated but more, this is to be given, selflessly, or openly, and without expectation of return or celebration.
I have to say that life can be pretty lonely when we are in the trenches. I can say that achievement is often the loneliest place to be because finish-line moments are rare. More often, we are here, working, sleepless, up late, out early, and trying to figure out a way to pull off our trick.
There are times, like now, when I am in a room by myself and I am writing away. The clicks from the keyboard and the light from my computer screen are all that’s awake to keep me company.
There are times when it seems as if I am screaming out loud, hard as ever. There are times when it seems like I am screaming to the point where the veins in my throat are thick blue lines that pulsate from my neck.
There are times when life is hard. There are times when this hurts and my training regimen can seem unrewarding.
But just when it seems hopeless, something miraculous happens.
I was at a gathering last night, which was mainly unrelated to what I do in my personal life. I was on my way out and saying my goodbyes to a few friends. I shook the hand of a person whom I’ve never met before. We’ve never spoken and, as decency provides, I reached over to shake this person’s hand and offer a basic introduction.
“Wait,” he said.
“You’re Ben Kimmel?”
Turns out, he followed some of my efforts. He mentioned this with a resounding source of appreciation.
“See that, my man?”
People do notice.
But we’re not in this for anyone else.
Instead, we’re in this to put in the effort.
The rest will come on its own.
I promise . . .