On New York City

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There are certain cities that incite a feeling of longing. I imagine others have felt it too, it starts as “I think I could live here”. Though for many places the lust is fleeting, that certain feeling subsides and life continues with the memories of a city once traveled.

If the feeling persists, however, it will nag. You will think of that place on your commute and while you make dinner and during your favorite show nothing else can distract you from. And if you still refuse to give the thought attention, the feeling will get louder.

I have had this feeling with a number of cities, but New York City has always run deeper than the others. Growing up on Long Island made Manhattan a place both daunting and awe-inspiring. Somewhere to visit for a show or dinner, but only for a short time. Residence was left for those more resilient and hardened to its seemingly cruel and fast-paced ways.

As years have passed and I have lived elsewhere, the feeling I mentioned has lingered. Only recently has the feeling evolved into a glaring realization that I can be one of those residents. I’ve found there are few opportunities to live out a dream, and given enough hesitation the opportunity erodes to one missed. So I moved to Brooklyn.

In my short time here I’ve seen the skyline stop seasoned veterans in their tracks to admire. The allure of this city hits some like the smell of fresh cookies from a bakery. And much like finding that bakery, crowds and lines and weather don’t deter those living here. Because the magnetic pull that spans the world and attracts tourists has an equal impact on it’s eight million residents.

There are those who leave in search of something better only to return with greater appreciation. Like many cities, the bitter winters and unrelenting crowds can corrode the spirit of even the most battle-hardened New Yorkers. This leads to retirement in Florida as an honorable discharge after years of shoveling show and navigating maze-like subway stations.

For now, however, the only word to describe the feeling is enamored. The skyline is a frame around the countless adventures, memories, and lessons to learn in my time here. Things only made possible by listening to the nagging feeling to give this intimidating city the college try it deserves.

Writing this post reminded me of watching Pinocchio on my old VCR growing up. As a naive child, Jiminy Cricket’s advice to let your conscious be your guide held little weight. Now, with adult responsibilities and obligations, it represents a directive to give that feeling inside attention. Because it may be the beginning to life’s next greatest chapter.

On Making Changes

 

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“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”

I read this quote amid my uncertainty on whether to leave North Carolina and move to New York City. There are countless other quotes that echo the idea. Another one I like is, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” It’s a topic belabored by bloggers and authors and self-help gurus so I was hesitant to contribute to the cliché. But this is my take on the subject.

We are all looking to make some change in life. Changing jobs, cities, relationships. It’s a product of the human condition, what we have is not enough. This both encourages positive growth, as the first quote suggests, and prevents us from appreciating what we do have. Being grateful is important and worth a post of it’s own, but I’ll focus on the changes we know will improve our quality of life.

Most posts on change offer a call to action. Imperatives such as “Just do it” and “What are you waiting for?” can provide short-term motivation, but rarely inspires lasting change or following through on quitting a job or moving to another city. In my short-tenured experience, change happens when your desire outweighs the cost. Costs such as fear, money, damaged relationships, and leaving your comfort zone.

If you or someone you know hates their job, and you ask, “Why don’t you just quit?” common responses are “I’m too lazy to look” or “There are some positives”. Laziness does not prevent change, in fact you are far from lazy if you begrudgingly show up every day to a job you’d prefer to be without. A truly lazy person would skip work instead.

Everyone is capable of making change. Perhaps some are able to change more readily. For them the costs are lower, likely less fear and a greater willingness to leave their comfort zone. However even those most stubborn make changes when they are truly ready.

My friend, with whom I discuss all of life’s intricacies, showed me an article on getting the most out of life. And the question becomes “What are you willing to struggle for?” Because when real desire exists, we make it work at any cost. Hours at the gym, hours working late, hours socializing with friends.

The ways in which we spend our time reflect our values. In a day with finite hours, we allocate our time based on what we find important. If a new job is a high priority, time is spent tailoring resumes and sending applications. If moving is a priority, time is spent researching new cities and developing a plan.

There is inherent risk in change, leaving the known uncomfortable for the potential of a better life. In my case it was leaving friends and a known city for one of the biggest in the world. Yet the desire for a new adventure outweighed the cost of uprooting. Excitement and the search for personal growth allows for a leap such as mine.

So if you have not made the change you want to make, I argue you are not ready. Change requires resilience and open-mindedness, as the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. When you are ready, the fear goes quiet. It is replaced by the fire inside getting louder until there is no choice but to act. This is where lasting change happens. Because growth is the enemy of fear, and fear will lose every time.

 

On Ocean Waves

cropped-33483953785_2437f66096_o.jpgFew things can match the serenity of waves crashing on a beach. Both in sight and sound we are enamored by the rise, crash, and retreat of waves. Why, as oxygen breathing land mammals, do we have such an affinity for the ocean and the beach? Maybe it’s proof that mankind can conquer uninhabitable places like the ocean and outer space and nothing can hold us back as a species.

We built ships to see the world before we had maps or the ability to properly navigate the planets vast oceans. Fear has never kept mankind from exploring and the ocean is a testament to that. I feel most alive gazing out over an ocean that extends to the horizon. So strangely that which can drown us and kill us is also what gives us life and fills us with wonder.

But the waves themselves are especially calming. The sound has found it’s way to nearly every sleep noise machine. Standing on a beach has an immediate calming effect as though each ebb of a wave takes a bit of stress with it back out to sea. In part it must be the repetition. The crash is predictable but not so much so as to bore, the timing isn’t perfect.

The sound is a time machine that brings us back to vacations and time spent with loved ones. Each break contains an array of memories and feelings of tranquility.

Like an eraser for the mind it wipes away stress and conflicts, problems and doubts. To find clarity, find a beach. Because we are small, and our problems are less than insignificant to nature and the expanse of the ocean.

JFK kept a plaque on his desk in the Oval Office with the quote “O, God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” The metaphor only works because the sea actually is so vast, and even our largest ships are so small in comparison. But the feeling of warm sun, an ocean breeze, and the sound of crashing waves is a strong medicine to combat our day to day troubles.

So we listen to the sound: the slight rise from nowhere, the foamy white curl, and the collision with the sand. And when we leave the sound continues, ready and waiting for our return to marvel at this awe-inspiring thing we call nature.