This week I’m speaking at a social justice event at a high school in New York. The basis of my talk is about mental health and healing. My main points are:
-We can say our weak things in a strong voice.
-The function of freedom is to free others by telling our story.
-We need to show up for others the way we want them to show up for us.
What do you think?
A year ago today, I moved back to New York after a couple of years away living and working in D.C. My time in D.C. was very valuable and though I thought about making it my home, there really was never any place for me except New York. The rhythm of this place, the opportunity and dreams it holds, and its energy are all the right match for me. What feels really good is that in this magical year, I learned for the very first time what it feels like to be home. Sometimes you have to go away to find out how much something means to you. I’ve left New York City multiple times, and I’ve always eventually come back.
What I love most about this city is that we’re all having a collective, individual experience. You get to have your New York and I get to have mine. They’re the same streets, the same subways, the same sky. But no two people have the same New York. Every inch of this city has seen someone fall in love, and someone have their heart broken. Every inch has seen the whole span of human emotions from happiness to anger, from hope and to despair. I used to tell people that I’ve lived most of my adult life in New York City. Now I tell them I’ve lived many lives in New York City.
I was coming home from a trip to Ireland last week, and there was a man from Dublin looking around JFK airport, wide-eyed and completely lost. I asked if I could help him navigate his way into the city, and he happily accepted the help. He said to me, “It’s always been my dream to come to New York.” I told him it was mine, too, and that it still is, every single day. And before we parted ways on the subway he thanked me for my help and said, “You’ve already made me love America.” For him, America is New York. And that’s true for me, too. I’m a New Yorker first, and an American second, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love this town with an unbridled, unrivaled passion. And as hard as some days are, I’m always grateful and fully aware of how fortunate I am to live here. Thank you to everyone who supported me and cheered me on as I made my way back here a year ago, and re-invented a new life for myself these past 12 months. I couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to another year of discovery and transformation in our wondrous, turbulent city.
“Because once you hear the music, you can’t stand still.” ~Billy Crystal, 700 Sundays
Sometimes I’ll walk down the streets of New York City and literally feel the rhythm of the city in my heart. I used to think there was something wrong with me because I found it so hard, almost painful and impossible, to be still. Especially in New York. I just don’t sit well. I make myself sit for 18 minutes a day for my meditation, and then that’s really it. Now I know there was nothing wrong with me. I was just hearing the music of this place. And as Billy Crystal so wisely explains, once we hear that music, we can’t stand still. We have to move with it. And so I do. And I smile.
“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.” ~E.B. White
Is there any more perfect description of New York and New Yorkers? I am solidly in this third group, someone who came to New York on a quest, who’s left several times, is back now, and is never leaving again. It took we a long time to learn to live with my passion for this place. That passion burned me up from the inside out several times. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to take a break, how to let my passion for this place fuel me and light me up rather than wear me down. It’s a process. Somedays I manage better than others, and I’ll say this: every day I get better and better at riding the wave here. And just when I think I can’t possibly love this city any more than I do, it does something magical that just makes me more passionate about working alongside other New Yorkers to make it a better place for all of us. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. This is home.
This young woman, mixed with a very small group of counter-protesters in the shadow of some of the greatest museums in New York City, was just asking to be free to express herself through art rather than being worried about guns. A simple ask that we must answer with an emphatic “Yes”. Take a look at the future. It’s so bright and I couldn’t be more hopeful. More photos below.
Central Park staff were out early this week cleaning up the park after the storm. Phineas and I spend a lot of time in this park, and we really appreciate everything that the staff does to keep this park the jewel of the city that it is. To thank and support them, I became a member. They are a big part of making this city such a wonderful place to call home.
I’ve been obsessed with store windows since I moved to New York City in 1998. At one point, I tried to figure out how I could become one of the people who create the magical display windows in places like Bergorf Goodman. Honestly, I never figured it out, but I’ve continued to keep that dream in the back of my mind. Blame it on the movie Mannequin, which I watched about 1,000 times as a kid. Hollywood was my hero.
On my way home from dinner last night, I started counting the empty storefronts on Columbus Avenue. I got up to a dozen in as many blacks before I stopped counting. There are just too many empty spaces that are begging for inspiration, art, and manifested dreams. So I started jotting down the phone numbers on those empty storefront signs. Clearly until they’re rented, there must be something we can do to make those spaces useful, or at the very least give passersby something to think and smile about, something to keep them going during these challenging times. Stay tuned…I’m going to make something happen with them.