✨“Good Vibes, Good Life”✨
Out on a limb: climb that lemon tree and tell the truth 🍋🍸
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
—W. B. Yeats
✍️Tuesday, June 20
“I am lucky, I am happy, I am healthy.”
Maybe if I repeat those words enough, I’ll believe them, and I can dissolve these nerves.
My mind filled in the next blank of that morning’s ten-minute Peloton happiness meditation with Kristin McGee, Riopy playing softly on the soundtrack. That was her mantra for today: “I am lucky, I am happy, I am healthy.”
With my eyes closed on the subway en route to the podcast studio, I recall all the times these train cars have held me over the last decade-plus, in full view of a menagerie of strangers, as I sat contemplating, people-watching, crying, reading the newspaper, writing, chatting, or celebrating.
New Yorkers wear their moods on their sleeves, even if not their hearts. People are much kinder and more helpful than the reputation would have you believe.
Halfway through the meditation session—just short enough to ensure I don’t miss my stop—I remembered the day Kristin McGee breezed into the Upper West Side post office like an apparition.
After mailing ten boxes of books, I had one extra copy of Free Time remaining that I was grateful to awkwardly sign and
foist gift to her. More than any other movement teacher, she had gotten me through the pandemic, and she was the one with me every day while I wrote the book.
It’s a Monday now, a few months after I ran into her, and I feel grateful. Although I’m in a dip (over)eating- and exercise-wise, at least I’m functional. I got dressed (even if not well) and left the house, en route to work.
A man walks by shaking a plastic cup with loose change. We riders don’t even carry those signature yellow MTA MetroCards any longer—it’s all digital. I wondered who would still have loose change to offer; even buskers now display Venmo handles and QR codes. The man slides open the large metal door to my left, preparing to make the precarious trip between cars while the train speeds forward, jerking from side to side.
That’s the thing, sadly, that being crammed into a New York City train car with a random assortment of people will remind you on a daily basis: just how good you have it, especially considering the growing number of people who have nowhere to go, nowhere to be treated.
“There are more than two hundred thousand residents of New York City living with severe mental illness; roughly five percent of them are homeless. That’s thirteen thousand people with schizophrenia, major depressive and bipolar disorders, or other significant mental- or behavioral-health diagnoses, all of whom regularly spend the night at a shelter, in the subway, on the street. They’re the ones you recognize—the people whom, for the past fifty years, every mayor has either tried to help, harass, or hide from view.”
The meditation ends. I still can’t shake the churning in my stomach, the self-doubt.
What divine disasters can I write about today? Especially when so many people around me are facing true survival disasters of their own?
I am coming up empty, confirming my fears that of course this project won’t have legs or enough for me to write about, that it’s a self-indulgent dive into first-world problems, that I’ll lose interest quickly, or that I’ll fail at the consistency implored by the Business Best Practices Police.
If I was continually inspired, would that mean I had pivoted into the business of courting disaster?
My inner censor takes this as a perfect opening to remind me that most people don’t talk about their losses in business. It doesn’t take a genius to see the connection between broadcasting the downside and courting a death knell fueled by bad vibes.
After all, if we talk about things taking a turn for the worse, current and prospective clients may lose confidence, anti-memetic repulsion quickly setting in (even if subconsciously), and into the garbage bin goes whatever is left of the business.
Isn’t that common sense?
Unless the business offers refreshing Truth-While-It’s-Fresh lemonade, transforming the giant pile of collective lemons that have been falling from the economic trees these last few years faster than most of us can make use of.
In that case, maybe sharing here won’t set off a doom loop?
If I don’t know the answer: is it worth the risk to find out?
Then again, isn’t what makes a project exciting—writing in particular—the level of risk involved for the person standing out on a limb?
I haven’t taken true Truth-telling writing risks, outside of small ones in the introduction of each of my three books, in years—at least ten, maybe fifteen.
The last time I wrote so openly on my blog was in my early twenties, in a post about crying uncontrollably before I had “solved for” my sadness. Multiple people replied telling me I shouldn’t broadcast such things. They said it was self-indulgent navel-gazing. “It was concerning,” they said, advising against such garish displays.1
Looking back, I think they were just worried about me, and their tolerance for taking public truth-telling risks was lower than mine. Instead of holding my head high and charging forth anyway, I started holding back in ways large and small.
Just then I glance down, and—gotta love the subway—I spot a small white book.
The woman sitting next to me has a paperback pried open, and in the corner of my trying-not-to-pry-eye I can juuuust make out the cover’s all-caps gold lettering: