Diversion. A piece inspired over the long haul.
Your day begins. You exit your apartment, climb down 5 flights of stairs, release yourself out onto the street, and dodge the mystery streaks and piles along the sidewalk until you spot the green bulbs of the subway station entrance. All of this is predictable. What happens next is out of your control. The subway’s delayed this morning for a variety of reasons: signal malfunction, sick passenger, an unexplained "earlier incident" (the imagination's cue to wander...). What's the contingency plan? Should you wait? Take your chances that the next train will be just under capacity enough for you to squeeze aboard? Or should you exit the station, and make your way towards the slower but cellphone-friendly bus? You could hail a taxi? It’s the most expensive option, but also the most efficient.
Every day, New Yorkers are dealt a hand of obstacles; rarely does a day go as planned, yet, that's what makes them thrive. The ability to navigate, postulate, and predicate a plan B (D, F or M) is an admirable skill. No two games are played the same way, because the odds are ever-shifting.
Two years ago, when I set the wheels in motion to relocate here, I had reached out to a city-dwelling friend for advice. Jenny shared helpful anecdotes like "don't live in Hoboken unless you plan on pushing a stroller" and "you won’t get everything you want, so decide now what’s important" (she was talking about apartments, but I imagine you, too, can see the universally-applicable advice). Amongst the jests and lessons learned, she also shared this motivating slice of wisdom: "People move to New York to pursue their dreams. They come here to do really interesting things, and many will change the world."
Wow. What a reassuring, yet intimidating thought. Her words made me pause and ask myself: was I moving to NYC to change the world? Or, was I just moving here to change myself?
Two years later, I can confidently confess that it was I who needed to do the changing. Fortunately, I have met people who are changing the world, and have invited me in on their secret to success: focus. Conversely, it’s the people I haven’t met that have afforded me the luxury of time to pursue my dreams and accomplish my goals. Like Jenny promised me, I haven’t gotten everything I wanted (yet), so I’ve had to decide what’s important.
On a recent return flight back to New York, I was diverted away from La Guardia. Fog, wind, and snow each played their part in creating the low visibility that caused this diversion. It was as if, at 35,000 feet up, the universe posed the question: "without any ability to see your destination, are you sure you want to continue on? I’m going to divert you away from your goal, let’s see how badly you want it."
Before New York, my life took unexpected twists, tumbles, and turns. I often ended up places I hadn’t expected, and in hindsight, never intended on going. Now, I make choices every day that determine if I move closer to, or further away, from my goals. When the universe presents me with diversions and distractions, I respond with patience, sacrifice, and good ol’ fashioned grit.
Perhaps, if I had known then what I know now, that life in New York is as hard as people warn you it is, I would have cancelled that moving truck and stayed put in a place, and a life, that was comfortable. Perhaps I would have run the other way if Jenny’s guidance hadn’t been so inspiring. But two years in the city of dreams have taught me a valuable lesson. You don’t come to New York to float; you either sink or swim. And while there’s much to learn from a place you never intended on going, there’s no greater feeling than finding yourself exactly where you belong.