New York or Bust

Approaching Manhattan from the Wards Island footbridge. (9/2012)

Earlier this year I thought it was time for me to leave New York City. However, over the summer, I realized my time in the City isn’t quite over.

I remember when this city had me on my knees. Shortly after arriving here, I thought a premature return to the Midwest was imminent and would become permanent. I remember thinking that if New York broke me, I would be no use elsewhere because I would have given New York everything I had. That worked as a daily reminder that I had nowhere to go but up if I wanted to be more than just a  survivor. The thought strengthened my resolve: I was in it to win it.

Some of my other mental pick-me-ups at the time were:

Go big or go home. (Home was no longer an option, so I had to go big)
Ride or die. (Not ready to die, so I had to keep on riding)
It ain’t over till it’s over. (Whenever I wanted it to be over, I was struck by inspiration to begin again)
All or nothing. (I pour all of me into everything I do)

You probably have your own idioms to express your “I’m-all-in-nothing’s-going-to-distract-me” commitment to a thought, place, relationship or dream. I can’t put my finger on what New York City is to me, but I know there’s something that drew me to this city and that something isn’t letting me go just yet. So until whatever needs to happen happens, this is home. It is a place of purpose and manifestation for me.

A few years ago, one of my then-close friendships hit the rocks…hard. Difficult relationships aren’t new to me. In the past, I was able to pick’n roll and keep it moving and the relationship usually recovered in due course. Not in this case. Shortly after this relationship began to flounder from the impact, I attempted to jump-start a recovery with a dose of truth about my nature. I let her know that we were either going to be stronger or nothing after our painful conflict. We were either going to learn from the disastrous fall and treat each other better, thereby strengthening our relationship, or we were going to be nothing at all to one another. (See “all or nothing” above.)

Her treatment of me remained the same and we became nothing.

In a similar way my relationship with New York City began on the rocks. As I floundered and nearly drowned within the first six months, I learned things about this City and myself that helped me calm down, tread water, and paddle like mad to get out of the deep end. The closer I got to the shore the more I became comfortable with laying back and floating as the once-tumultuous waves gently lapped around me. Every once in a while a big wave comes along to overwhelm me but with each occurrence my recovery time decreases and it takes more and more force to unbalance me.

I’ve become stronger in this city because, the very turbulence that could have diminished me to nothing against the rocks, instead served to strengthen me in ways I never even imagined. In the same way I have been strengthened through the turbulence in my interpersonal relationships as well.

My first time whitewater rafting in the Poconos (c. 2010)
I’m sitting second row, left side (partially hidden by a head and an oar).

Today’s lesson: Life is hard, exhausting work. If you aren’t willing to put in the work for your own life, then don’t be surprised at the outcome. If you only show up for the easy events, you’re going to miss out on the true blessings best identified by experience, maintained by conditioning and enjoyed with passion.

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4 thoughts on “New York or Bust

  1. I’m sure my departure from the City isn’t too far off – I’m itching too much to get out. Just need to figure out what needs to be done and do it. Best wishes to you too.

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