IN THE NOW
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
As I woke, the air conditioning unit that was propped up sitting in the window right above my feet turned on yet again to keep the living room temperature regulated with cool air.
A house guest for a warm summer week, I was visiting my two friends Glenn and Nicole in New York. Strangely enough I couldn’t wear my sneakers that I planned on wearing all week as I had walked so much the day before and I already had blisters. So I reached for my black ankle boots instead. Still dusty with remnants of sand from wearing them to the beach the day before I left for New York, I brushed them with my hand to make them a little more presentable. The thought of carrying little pieces of California with me while venturing to New York made me smile. Nicole had already left for work earlier that morning and as I stepped out of the living room and into the kitchen I saw that Glenn was also about to leave for work. He gave their dog a kiss on her head before we stepped out into the hallway and he locked the door behind us as we left. Walking down five flights of stairs, it was fun for me to feel like a fly on the wall examining what real life looks like on a working day in New York. Quickly rushing out of the two doors blocking the lobby from the city, the wave of city sounds consumed us and we had to speak up in order to hear each other talking. “Remind me later to play some of the music I recorded. I’d love for you to hear it.” Glenn said as our fast pace and large strides whisked us down the street. “I’d love to hear it!” I responded back. “Where’s a good coffee shop around here?” I asked. We waited for one car to pass and then took it upon ourselves to cross the street. “Cafe Jax is a good one.” Glenn advised and as he stepped into the adjacent crosswalk for the subway across the street his voice elevated. He pointed to the next street, “Take 84th, it’s between 1st and 2nd. Have a great day Kim!” Without hesitation I kept walking straight and waving I said, “Thanks Glenn, you too!” A whirlwind goodbye and the loud city soundscape felt all too comfortable for me. My sandy black boots and I made it to New York and it felt good.
Walking down 84th street somewhere between 1st and 2nd, I found Cafe Jax. Leaving the already humid morning outside I walked into the cool cafe. With original wood floors, crimson red wall paper with zebras printed on and reggae music playing, Cafe Jax had a very cool vibe. The one morning task I gave myself was complete as I retrieved my cold coffee and I went to play in the city.
There’s something that feels like home to me being in New York.
The fact that nothing is sugar coated, people are honest and the city has a sense of brutality imbedded into its’ core is exciting to experience. To live in this city, you have to want to be here. You have to want to be quick. You have to want to be smart and you have to want to be the best version of yourself if you want to survive. New York City is like the Amazon but for people – Only the strongest survive.
As I walked to Central Park I thought about the day before I left on my trip where I sat on a lifeguard tower watching surfers play in the ocean near the San Clemente pier. Southern California is beautiful. With its’ beaches so peaceful and so perfect, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone living there wanting to leave. The weather is kind, people are attractive and the lifestyle is healthy. Just as New York, California is special in so many ways. Their greatnesses are dichotic and remind me that life, for most, is what we choose for it to be. I believe that if we have the privilege of opportunity it’s a personal crime not to explore our options. I believe that it’s a wasted life to not allow ourselves to think outside the box in pursuing our desires. How do we want to think? What kind of life do we see ourselves living? Truly what kind of friends do we want to keep? What passion and work makes us come alive? How do we want to carry ourselves? Who do we want to become?
Before my trip to New York this summer, I moved into a studio apartment living on my own after years of living with roommates. It feels so good to be on my own again as does living in a city somewhere different than what I’ve known for the last six or seven years. Before leaving for New York, I felt a sense of new within my life and even more prevalent was a sense of contentment for where I’m at in my life at this moment. This is a feeling I’ve never felt. In previous experiences, even if I was loving my life and wouldn’t have wanted to change anything about it, I would still be looking to the future and how that future could be great. I was always planning. I was always trying to become a better version of myself. I was never able to feel that feeling of contentment or that faith in my bones telling me that everything is on track and that it’s ok to stop and smell the roses. Something within me changed when I found my new studio near my new beaches. I felt happy for once.
Throughout this life, I’m finding that being the truest to yourself is the key to everything.
Using the word ‘everything’ being entirely intentional. Being true to ourselves helps us with everything within our lives. Our relationships, our decisions, the work we do – everything becomes effortless, intentional and meaningful when we can be true to our wants, needs and desires. There are definitely difficulties behind knowing our truest selves – this takes time. For myself, I know that when I find opportunities that just look so clearly advantageous, I take them. A new concept that I’ve started applying to my life is not second guessing my already made decisions. Once I signed my lease and moved into my studio I never once thought about the money I could’ve saved living with four other roommates somewhere near my work. Because if I had allowed my brain to move in that direction it would’ve made so much more sense to do that for where I’m at in my life right now. But I can’t go back and change my situation, at least not for another six months. So since I can’t make that change what does this life for myself look like now? I contest that this rose smells so sweet and so good.
I was eighteen when I first travelled to New York City. Immediately upon arriving into the city, although bright eyed and optimistic, I knew I wanted to live in it someday. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found the understanding as to how people become jaded within the responsibilities of life and how as people we need to capitalize on money as our tool to get by. We have to know our worth in order to succeed within our work and, for most, nothing is handed to us. One of the main reasons why New York City draws me in so much is because I know that living and working in the city would make me a really strong and wise person personally and professionally. I know I would be surrounded with some of the most passionate and driven people found in our world. How do I want to think? Open-mindedly. What kind of life do I see living? A life full of knowledge, adventure and love. What kind of friends do I want to keep? Ones who inspire me daily with their intelligence, wit and kindness. What passion and work makes me come alive? Creative activism and managing projects. How do I want to carry myself? With the most genuine of confidence. Who do I want to become? A valuable member of the global community holding confidence, kindness and strength every step I take. I have no doubt I’ll get to that best version of myself someday. What I find the most important out of absolutely everything mentioned is that what I am doing with my life right now at this stage is really interesting, allowing for my growth and providing wonderful people and opportunities that I’m enjoying very much. I remind myself to sit back and enjoy what I have within this moment.
My ultimate life goal has been to never regret. I fear being the older version of myself and regretting the lost opportunities presented to me. My twenties were spend living the theme of exploration. Looking back, I was a master explorer incredibly unsettled and always learning. I look back at my twenties and know that I lived those years the best I ever could but also I definitely would never want to re-live those years either. When we are ready to move on, I believe, it means that success was found within exhausting that avenue. Now for my thirties I dedicate these years to the idea of mastery. Focusing on what I care about most and finding thorough development. What the remaining decades will hold, I will know better later. But with this idea being prevalent within my thoughts there isn’t a lot of time to revel in the past.
Pioneering the future isn’t as important as it is pioneering my present.
Once my New York week moved into the New York weekend I found my friends and myself enjoying the night in Brooklyn. Strong cocktails from a bar named Elsa and dinner at a restaurant tucked into a secret corner of the cool burrow, it was nice seeing another area away from Manhattan. As our night ended, the three of us climbed into an Uber and made our way back. I didn’t want to be rude ignoring my friends but I couldn’t take my eyes away from all of the beautiful bridges that connected the burrows to New York City. The bright lights decorating each large bridge seemed brighter than the lights tightly scattered throughout the skyscraper skyline. The way that the water too had lights from the reflections of the city, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the sight. I wanted to take a photo but knew that there was no way I would ever be able to capture this level of beauty with a photograph. I held what I saw closely to my heart not thinking of my past and not looking towards my future – just being there in that moment and loving life and everything in that moment.
Life is beautiful everywhere travelled – Life can be beautiful everywhere we settle if we can just find our peace. Life is what we make of it. We are what we allow ourselves to become.
No matter what we are facing or hating or loving within our lives at this moment we must take it for everything the current moment has to offer. The present is the only place where we can grow. For whatever the reason being that I feel so happy in New York I hold dearly the desire of being truly happy once my city vacation is over and I have to clean the city dust off of my black ankle boots. I know that someday I’ll walk brightly into my future knowing just how good all of the beautiful roses smelled along the way.