Friday, February 10, 2012

What a Year!

What a Year

It was one year ago that we packed our bags and dogs and headed to Brooklyn.  Never thought we’d be here a whole year.  And certainly didn’t think we’d be starting a second one again so far from our home out west.

Had to get used to the noise of the city, and not having a car, and having to walk or take a subway wherever we wanted to go, and carrying just the groceries we needed for that day, and walking the dogs on the busy streets, and living with the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.  Never thought we’d actually like all those changes, but we did.

Had to leave friends and family behind and live where we didn’t know anyone.  But after a few days the unknown started to become familiar, the schedules of things started to become routine, the things we feared from afar slowly started to seem secure, and the perceptions we had slowly became realities.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still hate change (don’t we all), but this tiny apartment, which is the 15th place we’ve lived in since getting married more than 36 years ago, and the new surroundings and work now are part of the rhythms of our current life.  And the hopes and dreams we had on that plane ride out here a year ago are now woven into the fabric of the lives we now lead.

In the end, it really is about seeing the possibilities in the things that we’re presented with.  We can always get caught up in the seemingly unfair turns that our lives take, but the road doesn’t look so long or scary in the rear view mirror and the things outside the windows of our lives are now beginning to define who we are, the trick being to more clearly see out the window or windshield. In the distance are the theaters and museums and parks and rivers and changing seasons that all hold so much wonder and promise.  But still I was sweating the small stuff, like I worried about how the dogs would take to the radical change of environments – actually they were just happy to be with us and going for walks is the same bonus here that is was and is anywhere.  To them, there’s a whole new world of smells to be sniffed…. there’s a lesson in that for all of us.

When’s the last time you could walk to enough restaurants that you almost never had to eat in the same on twice; of course we found some favorites and in them we became recognized regulars.  When’s the last time you could easily walk to the park, and to get groceries, and to buy flowers and wine from people who slowly stopped being strangers.  Not surprisingly, we’ve grown comfortable and familiar in these new surroundings – like many would under these circumstances.  When’s the last time you had to change doctors and dentists and hair stylists and gyms and all the other things you’ve gotten familiar with.  Funny, but the new ones quickly start to seem like the old ones (and the people in each of them look nearly familiar).  Yep, we all cringe at the thought of change, but fortunately, we are, in fact, adaptable enough to change.

I’m writing this on the train from Long Island to Brooklyn – the bonus is being able to write rather than drive with gritted teeth through rush hour traffic.  I’m wearing a winter coat instead of the warm weather gear I’d have on back home in Laguna Beach – but I’m now one of the happy ones who remark about the great winter weather we’re having here in what is normally the frozen and frigid Northeast.  I’m headed back to our little apartment in the middle of Brooklyn in the heart of the Big Apple – and yes, the glass is half full because it’s the weekend and I can get out the New York Times and check out all the great entertainment choices we have.

Because we didn’t have to pack up and sell our home, this started off feeling like an adventure.  And every day we had to remind ourselves that adventures at any age are good; so we took lots of deep breaths and tried not to worry about what we didn’t have.  Because what we did have was good enough. Yeah, we had uncertainty, but we had each other.  Of course, we had ups and downs, but again, we had each other.  And after more than 36 years, it’s comforting to know that that’s more than enough.  So it’s been a good year.  And now we’ll get up on our tiptoes and look over the horizon at the next year to come.  Together.  Good enough!

My message this week is about never being afraid to try:                             

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.”

-Stephen Kaggwa

Stephen Kaggwa is a young Ugandan restaurateur who immigrated to the USA in 2002. Since 2006 he has owned and operated an African (Ugandan) cuisine restaurant called Tam Tam's in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Lots of people have uttered quotes like this throughout time, and it’s noteworthy that a young immigrant understands this sage advice.  How many times as a youngster did you fall off your bike, only to have your parents get you back on with a friendly “try again”?  How many times did you try something for the first time – at work or in sports – only to come up short and have a coach or colleague urge you “try again”?  Ever hear the saying: “nothing ventured, nothing gained”?  Lots of different ways to say that it’s better to have tried and failed at something than to never have tried at all.  Because it’s only by trying that you’ll put yourself into a position to do the right thing or even possibly win or succeed.  And never giving up is the only way you’ll ever have a chance to do something great and grand.  So go ahead and try, and don’t worry if you fail; what you’ll learn will be invaluable.

Stay well!

1 comment:

  1. I'm enjoying your blogs Arte..especially this one, and the one on friendship. Happy to know you are doing well...from an old Utica friend...Susan Seld Littman, Westport, CT.