"If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere." - Everyone in New York
I've noticed there's this strange reality with people here in New York — a paradox—they have both high and low expectations of others. At work, for instance, the expectations are high: There’s no hand-holding; people are sharp, poised, to-the-point. Likewise, on the street or on the train, people walk with purpose. There’s no time for moseying, no use in dawdling. New Yorkers expect you to keep going. To keep moving. To keep trying.
People expect you to be confident, self-sufficient, they don't doubt that you can 'make it'.
At the same time, they're not surprised that some people don't 'make it' or when, frankly, they’ve lost it all together. They aren't taken aback when people ask for money on the subway or come on the train to see if anyone will spot them a ticket to Harrison for the night. They're not surprised when they see a legless man with a cardboard sign or a group of nomads and their dogs hunkered down in an alley for the night.
They're not surprised. But they're not unmoved.
There's a humanity about this place that I haven't experienced before. It's just this simple understanding that we're all just people trying to get by. We're all trying to do a good job -- make a little more money, keep our heads up and shoulders back, not step in dog pee (yeah, probably dog pee...) on the sidewalk -- just trying to do our best.
Sure, we’re different -- some of us are super weird (and I mean super weird) and kind of smelly and maybe a little scary. But we're all just people. The kicker is that there are a lot of people in this city. A lot of people trying. So it's not surprising, I guess, that some people...a lot of people...aren't keeping it together as well. It's not surprising that Jim is down on his luck, or that Jose needs to ask perfect strangers for pocket change so he can feed his kids, or that Nicole and Lamar have to sing on the subway to earn a few bucks. It's not surprising. It's just life.
You’d have to really make an effort to experience this ‘togetherness’ back home. You're rarely all mixed in (at least not in such close quarters) with people who are different from you. You don’t have to share your morning commute with a subway car full of strangers. Back home, you rarely have to sit next to a smelly homeless guy. You don’t even have to see him if you don't want to. Sometimes, in New York, you have to. You have to see him and look at him and say hello to him. And help him, if you can. In New York (and in other places, I'm sure), you frequently come eye-to-eye with with well...your own humanity. Beyond the confident, self-sufficient attitude, there’s a frailty that’s just as present, just as real.
I don’t want to sound like I’m coming from a self-righteous, sort of preachy place, because honestly, I have nothing to preach. It’s just something that is SO constant here -- this juxtaposition and mingling of different types of people. Different incomes, different wardrobes, different jobs, different perspectives, this mishmash of humanity…it’s mind-boggling. It’s awe inspiring. And sometimes, it’s really really challenging.
When you can’t look away from the harsher realities and less-than-instagrammable parts of our existence, your priorities start to change. It’s no longer as satisfying to pursue things for only your own success, your own profit. At least for me, it makes me want to live life in a way that matters to more than just little old me. It makes me start to reevaluate how I’m helping people in big and small ways.
In November, I started donating a portion of each Frameworthy Designs sale to Unbound. I’m donating quarterly, and just made my first contribution to their micro-funding programs that give people the financing to create a path out of poverty (Learn more here). For me, this marks a turning point in my little business. It demonstrates that even relatively small sales can add up and impact the lives of others.
I’m proud to continue that effort, but I want to do more in the lives of my customers as well. I want to serve YOU by making products that inspire you, motivate you, and encourage you. I want to empower you to be your best, so that you can, in turn, help others.
So, if you have a minute, I’d love to know more about you. Will you tell me about yourself? What are you struggling with? What are you hopeful for? Who do you want to connect with? How do you connect with others? How do you connect with yourself? How do you connect with God?
These are big questions, and vague, I know, but I think that if I knew you better, I could serve you better. I could inspire you to think big, dream bigger, pray deeply, and live a generous, joyful life.
If you want to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I really do hope to hear from you soon.