I'm at the end of week three of my time here in New York, and so far this has been my favorite week. I came out here because I felt like it was the right thing to do, and I was terribly disappointed when things seemed to not go as well as I'd hoped. I was feeling lonely, homesick and constantly jerked around by the city and the people in it. But, in my time alone my thoughts have gathered in little puddles. Maybe that's not the right metaphor. It reminds me of those little bacteria I had heard about that when they run out of food they congregate into a solid mass, millions upon millions of them, building on one another until they look like a small plant. I'm not sure why they do this actually, and maybe this whole description has been totally unnecessary, but my point is that my thoughts seem to be doing something similar, seemingly random but building into lessons and insights.
Anyway, I thought I'd share some of my realizations, despite the fact that they are probably quite cheesy and it's very late and I'd like to go to sleep but my roommate is in the shower and will probably be there for the next hour at least.
First, I undervalue myself. I think most of us do, and I'm beginning to see that this undervaluing, which we tell ourselves is modesty, is bullshit. I may not have had lots of conventional experiences in the work force of the world, but I have had done a lot of a great things that I simply don't give myself credit for. I have to build on those things and those experiences.
Second, I cannot find happiness in a place, or rather because of a place. When I was in Provo I fantasized about being in New York, and when I got here I fantasized about being back in Utah, and when I go back I know I'll think about being here. I've got to learn to be happy where I'm at, whether it is in Harlem or Provo or Louisville. I have to find things that bring me joy in that place, but not because of the place itself, but because of how I am looking at that place. Today it was people's dogs. Oh I love the dogs in New York. They're like tiny happy little people, and they bring their owners such joy. I saw one little guy trotting along with his owner and her baby with such a bounce in his little step, and every five paces or so he would look up lovingly at his owner. Then I saw a little old lady walking with her walker and her little shiatsu whose long hair was brushed out perfectly, but she was very fat and moved slowly and I could tell she was old as well. "She's so adorable," I said, unable to help myself. "She's my baby," said the old lady, "Or I guess she's my old lady." I think I'll have to dedicate a whole post to the dogs I see around here. They amuse me so.
Lesson three: last night I started my job at an installation at the Armory on Park Avenue (which I will also have to wrote a whole post about soon) and part of my job is to talk to strangers about the piece. Me? Talk to strangers? If you know me, and have known me for a long time, you know me to be shy, to run away from strangers, to avoid talking at all costs, but deep inside I'm not really like that, and for the last couple of weeks I have been aching to talk to strangers, to all the hundreds of interesting people I see every day on the bus and the street and the subway. So this job is my chance to do so. And I realized last night that if I didn't talk to people I would have to stand there bored, and I would rather do anything than just stand around bored, so I pushed myself and I talked to as many people as I could, and we stood there, close together, and analyzed the piece, and I answered questions and I was in heaven. It was like teaching again. I loved it, and I realized this morning that I have to be just as deliberate in living my life. It's either push myself and get out of my comfort area and do something interesting or be bored and stand around and never get anywhere. I can't be afraid of people, I can't shy away from helping someone or from talking to a stranger when the opportunity comes up. And so when I left the apartment today and walked down the street in Harlem it felt like I was in a different place, and I felt good and comfortable and ready to go and talk to people and do so without being afraid but also without being naive, because I'm not going to undervalue myself anymore, and I know that I am a smart and capable human being.
So my whole point is, the last few weeks have been difficult, just as I knew they were going to be, but I can't believe how quickly I am learning lessons that will hopefully change the way I live my life. As I said before, these are all just random thoughts coming together and forming something bigger and more tangible, and they may continue to grow and change. I just hope I actually use them. I'm going to Coney Island tomorrow to work, where I had had a bad experience a couple weeks ago, and I hope things will go better with my new epiphanies in tow. We shall see.