So two weekends ago I had a rare gift: I got to spend two days in New York City, where I lived for a few years more than three decades ago. I had only gone back a couple of times after I moved away, and even that was still 20 years ago. A lot of living was packed into that short time.
Walking in the city stirred up in me the same kind of feelings it always had…that hadn’t changed. Something about pounding that pavement, avenue after avenue, amid the throngs, had always been somehow weirdly comforting. I felt it again. Something about every person being able to feel at home there. Because the city accepts everyone, no matter who they are, or aren’t.
What had changed was me. When I lived there before I had experienced real fear, more than once. I wrote a song about it years later called Tenement Row. I had on glasses of fear then; that’s how I approached every day. Now I have switched those specs for ones that look through lenses of love. I know that sounds odd, maybe even a little corny, but it’s changed, well…everything. I see the world differently through these invisible glasses. And while I was walking alone on Friday afternoon in the sweltering heat, a phrase kept coming to me over and over. I didn’t know why at the time, but it ended up becoming this little riff on life…because I couldn’t get it out of my head otherwise.
Just because others say you’re not good enough doesn’t mean you should believe them, and just because you’re not good at everything doesn’t mean you’re not good at something.
Just because you don’t have faith in a higher power doesn’t mean a higher power doesn’t have faith in you.
Just because you don’t always feel loved by others doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always love yourself.
Just because nobody else knows you did a good deed doesn’t mean you didn’t do it.
Just because you’re not homeless today doesn’t mean you can’t be on another day…and just because you are homeless today doesn’t mean you will be another day.
Just because violence is all around you doesn’t mean you have to live your life in fear.
Just because you had a crappy childhood doesn’t mean you must have a crappy adulthood.
Just because you’re supposed to be happy doesn’t mean you always have to be.
Just because today really sucks doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t hold a miracle.
Just because you didn’t see an opportunity doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.
Just because you don’t know where the journey will end doesn’t mean you shouldn’t begin it.
How do I know all of this? Just because I see it in people around me, every day.
Added on July 3, 2016, and republished on the Huffington Post….
Herbo the Clown as Inspiration
Life is a gift. As my dad Herbo the Clown would’ve said, no matter what, it pretty much beats the alternative. Today would’ve been his 97th birthday, and he lived every day of those years. When he was 92 and in a care home I had the honor of watching him, weak and pale, perk up when he heard young trick-or-treaters had arrived at the care home on Hallowe’en. He insisted I get him up in his wheelchair and grab his balloon animal kit and off we went.
The nurses and I had to pump the balloons up because he was too weak, but he twisted them into magical shapes–turtledoves, light sabers for the boys, princess crowns for the girls and the ever-popular “wiener dogs.” Candy momentarily forgotten, the children gathered around him, their eyes enormous with wonder, anticipating their turn. Every gift came with a story, or a joke, even though he could barely speak or smile. Thirty minutes later he had created 19 balloon creations and a lot more memories. He returned to his room, utterly exhausted from the effort to please, and slept until the next morning.
His will that day was engaged to do what he did best…make people smile and laugh. He died exactly three months to the day later, on January 31.
That story reminds me to live my fullest, most mindful life…just because I can.
Ask, and you shall receive…