3 Years in New York
Last Saturday, the 1st of September marked three years since I arrived in New York. I had just been on an Aeroflot flight or two for the past 16 or so hours, making my way from Tel Aviv through Moscow to JFK. After spending three weeks in Israel, considering and then dismissing the possibility of living there, I decided to come to New York, stay with friends and hatch some plans to move to San Francisco. Astrologically, San Francisco was on my Jupiter line (which sounded like a good thing). I went there a few times when I was young and remember liking it; and I had recently watched Team New Zealand compete in the Americas cup there and it looked beautiful. That was basically the extent of my reasoning. By all accounts, pretty sound. I never did get there.
It’s actually kind of hard to explain and think about the past three years. I’ve experienced so much anxiety, worry and fear, felt confronted, challenged and continually scared that I am in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. I was talking about it with a friend and said that I wished I hadn’t spent the whole time worrying but I also think the worry and uncertainty and fear and challenging nature of it was probably all part of it.
I think for some of us, maybe most, it’s easier and more comfortable to feel all the negative stuff about ourselves, talk ourselves down and focus on our weaknesses. And it can be hard to really acknowledge all the stuff that we have done well or the challenges we’ve faced; and really feel proud about who we are. So I am, hopefully without sounding like too much of a wanker, going to try and recognise what I am proud of. I am proud that I have lasted in New York for three years. In a city that often feels like you are competing for your very survival; when most of the year is either unbearably hot or cold; where things are just plain hard a lot of the time; I am still here, still going, still trying.
I am proud of myself for really experiencing a period of not earning money. And even though most of the time I have felt ashamed about this, I can also see how it has taken guts, courage and a whole lot of faith.
I am proud of myself for the friendships I have made here. And the closeness formed with the people I live in very close quarters with. Even though at times it has been so bloody confronting; the continued and unconditional love and support has been completely overwhelming.
I am proud of myself for setting up a small yoga school in Brooklyn. For finding a space for my expression; and trying to create a space where people can feel safe and nurtured and able to relax. Even more, I am proud of getting through all those quiet periods and all the frustration, fear and feelings of failure that probably necessarily come with putting something out there and waiting to see if the world likes it. I am proud of myself for writing this email every week for the past year or so, and being as honest as I can, even when I would rather not.
A great deal of the past three years, I have spent looking forward, wondering nervously about how things will turn out. I clearly remember feeling a desperation to find that thing that would feel like, define and be me. I had made a big decision to leave a lot of security and certainty in Sydney and I frantically wanted to make it all worthwhile and all make sense to the rational, nervous part of me, wondering what the hell I had just done.
I became attached to ideas: I would live here, I would do this work in this type of company, or I would be a yoga teacher, an energy healer, no, a meditation teacher. I felt a lot of pressure to get stuff locked down and settled. I would jump wildly from one thing to another; feeling flakey, disorganized, irresponsible and naïve. As time passed this need to define myself has lessened. It’s been an interesting ride, one which I can see that despite how hard it was; was something I truly wanted. And even though it hasn’t always been dignified, it has had many funny, exciting, joyful and life changing moments. Maybe I will one day make it to San Francisco, maybe I won’t. Maybe I will live here for another three years and maybe I won’t. Maybe it doesn’t matter too much because right now it feels nicer to reflect on everything that has happened, that I have created and experienced. Life won’t and can’t be forced – I am just going to keep trying to be myself in it.