I’m on the NYC subway taking the 2 train from downtown Brooklyn to Times Square. It’s a week from Christmas on a Friday night. The man sitting across from me appears to be half-drunk, although I know he isn’t.
He is smiling and I see his speech is a direct result of his almost toothless mouth. Still, his words doesn’t always make sense. His mind isn’t altogether and I’m wondering how he got that way.
But my heart is breaking for the boy who’s sitting at the very end of the train cart with his hood over his head, slumped over.
“Hey, son!” Yells out the almost toothless man. “Take a picture of me and the tree.” The man speaks loudly, too loudly, saying he somehow got the tree and is trying to sell it. It’s a small, Christmas tree he seems to have gotten by ill-means. He asks if I’d like to buy it. I glance, half-acknowledge him and turn my head the other way.
“Hey, son!” He says again. “Come here.” The boy gets up from his seat and walks over to his father. He stumbles as the train turns. “Take a picture of me and this tree.” The son walks away. Annoyed, the father pulls out his cell phone and from the corner of my eye I see he’s taking a selfie. Now, he’s turning the phone around to show everyone saying, “You see this picture here?!” My head remains turned. Not because I’m apathetic, but for the dignity of his son.
“You see, my son is too much of a f****** coward to take the picture!” he yells.
My heart breaks. “Poor kid,” I whisper into my scarf.
“Now you made me miss the stop and we have to turn around to go back to 125th,” says the father.
“No we don’t.” The kid replies. He gets up and points to the subway map. “We didn’t pass it yet.”
The father, in his stupor-mind, isn’t convinced. He begins saying harsh words to his son. The boy walks away and looks outside the subway’s doors, using his hood to shield his face from those on the train.
I want to go grab the boy’s hand and take him with me. To hug him. Love him. Tell him it will be OK. I want to negate the father’s words by telling the child: You are loved. You are special. You have purpose. I want to help him escape from a life he didn’t sign up for. Free him from embarrassment.
My stop is next. We’re on 34th street headed to 42nd. And I feel sad. I want to help, but can’t. I have to leave the boy. My stop is here, and I’m getting of the train.
The excitement is done and now I must sit down and write.
This weekend I attended The Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City at The Roosevelt Hotel. The three day event was packed with sessions from publishing, to developing your craft, and even creative marketing strategies to sell your book.
Overall, it went very well:
Nothing beats being in a room full of people who are equally, or perhaps even more, passionate about the same thing as you are. The energy that filled the room from an array of writers who were “newbies,” journalists, and even best-selling authors never gets old.
And as much as I have come to appreciate and love the blogging world and its bloggers, there’s no better massage to the brain than to be amongst writers who blog, and have an appreciation and respect for the craft of writing, rather than bloggers who simply — well, just blog.
The keynotes were all inspiring in their uniquely touching, yet sometimes funny way. Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life and Devotion, shared how writing saved her life. She spoke on boldly writing about our lives saying, “We do not choose the stories that we tell. The stories choose us.” And that we should never be ashamed to share the muck in our lives because others can find healing in it.
The following day’s keynote was by Harlan Coben, a New York Times bestselling author. In a comical, yet relatable way he explained how being a best-selling author isn’t any more prestigious than being a “regular” writer. Cohen said, “Only bad writers think they’re good,” and he constantly noted even in being an accomplished writer, he still struggles with insecurities. “One moment I’ll write something and think it’s genius, just to read it again and realize it’s stupid,” he laughed. Yet, he urged us all to “face the blank page,” because “the only thing that makes you a writer is actually writing.”
Kimberla Lawson Roby, another New York Times best-selling author, was the closing keynote. She shared her writing journey from her doubts to her successes in beginning as a self-published writer. Roby said she quit her job to pursue her passion, and her husband even volunteered to use money from his 401k to support her. She said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80 years old. It’s never too late to live out your passion.” And using the words her husband told her, “If it does not work then you move on to something else,” because it’d be ashame to one day inquire of ourselves, “‘If I had tried what could have happened?’” Roby noted her books have received praise, and criticism for its controversial and often labeled “scandalous” stories. However, she responded saying, “I always try to tell the truth in stories whether it’s good or bad.” And preceding a loud applause, she ended on one of several notes: “Every day before I write, I’m on my knees asking God what to say.”
What do you think? What was your impression of the conference?
You can tell a great deal about yourself by what annoys, frustrates, irritates, and upsets you about others.
Patience hasn’t been my forte lately. And oddly enough, I seem to be the most impatient with impatient people. (Go figure. I’m working on it though.)
The same is of people who are unfaithful in relationships. They struggle with accepting the idea that their partner is faithful, or become extremely upset when their mate is unfaithful towards them.
Gossipers have issues with gossipers; hypocrites are hypocritical of other hypocrites. People who tend to lie and be argumentative don’t get along too well.
The frustration we experience toward others is a reflection of our own imperfect character.
Yet, we act differently towards others when we act out of our strengths.
Displaying compassion is one of my strengths. I hate to see anyone suffering, without, or struggling. When I encounter people who I can be compassionate towards I jump on the opportunity. I know we are all entitled to a bad day, we all have our struggles, and I find it easier to display grace and love to people in these situations.
However, how many people have said, “I’m struggling myself, and they expect me to help them?” The imperfection we have in our life reflects in how we act and react toward others.
So the next time you catch yourself becoming frustrated with someone, before you lash out on them, or choose to become upset, examine yourself. We all have character blemishes. And perhaps the imperfection you’re so irritated with others about is one you need to develop yourself.
When that day comes for my life to pass before me, when I am old in age, I want to reflect on my life knowing the condition the world was in when I came improved through my existence.
I want to leave earth knowing during my lifetime there was one tear not shed due to my encouragement, one soul not rejected because I had loved.
I want to know one less spirit will die a sinner, one less stomach went hungry; one less child was lost.
I want to know in my heart, believe with my soul, and feel within my spirit I did a job “well done.” And not because I did anything “spectacular” and “noteworthy,” but because I helped a life with the one life given to me.
I believe in the power of uniqueness. And I believe that’s why no two people have the same fingerprint, because everyone was created to do something and be someone different.
Unfortunately, instead of fostering our gifts and talents, and fulfilling our purpose, we become jealous and compare ourselves to others.
We become so concerned about what “they” are doing that we lose focus on what we should be doing. We become so obsessive of how “they” may take our positions, that we sabotage and discourage them from achieving. We become envious because “they” are leading great lives.
The sad part is…
We spend far too much time envying people, rather than applauding them for achieving; becoming depressed over what he or she is doing, instead of working on what we can do; admiring people for their greatness because we haven’t taken time to develop ours.
When we look too long at others out the window, we close the door shut for anything wonderful to happen in our lives.
But here’s a secret:
You have a unique purpose of your own that only you can fulfill.
So instead of discouraging, trying to hinder, or sabotage people away from their purpose, focus on fulfilling what only you can achieve: your purpose.
Stop comparing the incomparable…
It’s silly to compare or grow jealous of someone else fingerprint. Both are unique. Both serve a purpose. Both are an original.
The same is of you and your purpose. There is power in your uniqueness. Stop comparing and becoming envious. There’s an awesome amount of potential within you.