We last left our story with a young writer and struggling entrepreneur feeling his back pressed against the wall: a desperate fight to make ends meet in the unique, challenging environment of the world’s greatest metropolis, New York City.
That story, of course, is my own personal narrative.
As 2011 departed and the calendar flipped into Twenty-Twelve, I felt the urge to metabolize significant inner growth and evolution that I had experienced from publishing my first book into some worldly-action: movement.
Inner change, I believe, is only as noble as it becomes a catalyst for the changes we make outside of ourselves. In other words, because:
When you carry personal growth into the real world through your actions, decisions and commitments, you invite the whole world to shift along with you.
Movement was how I wished to invite the world to change along with me, and New York City was the destination I arrived upon. By April of last year I was there. But by the summer, I began to worry as my personal business had all but dried up.
After three years and some fifteen or more different efforts, projects and ventures launching and dying — from various solo gigs, freelancing, web design, life coaching, tons of personal writing and nearly 300 blog posts — you could say I was starting to feel a bit dejected.
I knew that moving to New York City would be provide that pressure that my business needed: adapt, or die.
And true to form, it was only when I felt the imminent possibility of my business’ death that I would finally adapt and stumble upon a business idea that I named, the Literati.
A $1,000-week later and I suddenly felt some room to breathe. Like I could actually avoid a reality worse than death to a “perpetually-unemployable,” freedom-loving soul: relinquishing his freedom, submitting to the simple reality before him, and hoping to find a job, if even he was capable of finding one.
(My resume is truly a pathetic thing.)
Adapt, or die. That’s where I was in New York City. But the Big City had been teaching me more than that from the beginning. Every city does, I think: the noise, the combustion, the endless bustle of a living organism that can’t be contained.
New York City, as I know it, is the greatest teacher I’ve ever encountered.
I learned in six months what in the woods of my childhood home in Rhode Island might take me years. How does it teach in such a way? I could best describe it like this.
Choosing New York City means choosing “continual experience” — and for the remarkably human reason of the experience, itself. In other words, for all of its opportunities, beauties, pleasures, and indescribable nature, to me New York City represents the utmost purity of what it means to choose “Experience for experience’s sake.”
As for the experiences themselves?
The Big Apple is unwieldy and uncontrollable; as much a magnificent work of art as it is brutish and revolting. This town truly shows you that how you see what you see is what life becomes: a fact of the human experience so obvious that we often forget it altogether.
If New York City really is about “continual experience,” eventually, and when you’re there for long enough, the experiences start to choose you.
The good ones. The terrible ones. The little pleasures, the hole-in-the-wall cafes, the slices of Eden. And, just as much, the discomforts, the street crazies who ruin your day, the feeling that you are totally out of control, the feeling that you cannot escape.
One comes with the other.
That’s the human experience.
That’s life itself.
What I now know of myself that I did not know before I lived in New York City was how significantly I value and cherish space. Personal space that invites the muse. A clean space — order — that invites wild, unwieldy art to ensue. Quiet space that frees the tension from my body. If only in chunks and bursts, the natural introvert that I am really loves and needs space, every day.
What’s more, is freedom.
And back to the point of why I’m writing to you this Friday.
This past Saturday night, I sat at my computer desk in my childhood bedroom in my parents’ Rhode Island house, working. Caffeinating my sluggish brain after 10:00 PM on a weekend night, the only place I wanted to be was back in New York City again, experiencing.
Experiencing my best friends. Experiencing new people. The noise. The bustle. The light and the sounds. That symphony. LIFE ITSELF. I wanted to experience that joy right then and there; that fun and pleasure and the feeling of being young and completely alive.
That’s all I really wanted as I sat down another night in front of my computer screen — the place where I’ve invested myself for nearly four years; the place into which I pour my heart; the place that I quit my career for; the digital space that my inner cynic continually questions and criticizes saying, “This online thing isn’t even real. It doesn’t even matter. What am I doing this for?”
Then I thought,
That’s exactly what I am fighting for, right now.
That life. That choice. That freedom.
The very reason I’ve fought tooth and nail for these years through every stumble and failure and fuck up is for that freedom. The freedom to fail, so that I might succeed. The freedom to fuck up, so I might create something beautiful. The freedom to stumble, so that I might fly.
The reason I sit down at a computer on a Saturday night in December from my childhood home is the fight for me, who I am and what I believe.
I do it so I can experience my best friends and meet new people. The noise and bustle. The lights and sounds! Movement and new cities. Joy, whenever the hell I feel like feeling it. Fun and pleasure, at any time I want to find it — because it ought to be always available.
That’s why I fight.
Every day of my life is a fight for my freedom. It’s a fight against settling for less. It’s a fight against conforming to what I’m told I should or need to do. It’s a refusal to accept less than what I know I’m capable of giving — right now. I fight today because my instinct tells me just keep fighting; sometimes I think that quitting is an option, but deep down I know it’s really not. It’s only a thought — a fear, and one that I must fight, every day.
How ironic that it took so much quitting — out of desperation, depression, confusion and heartbreak — to get here at all.
How ironic that it takes so much quitting to learn how to fight in the first place.
To learn what’s worth fighting for.
To learn how to fight well, and for the long haul… if only to prove that you can. If only to prove that the fight is worth it. If only that others might follow your footsteps — or fight right alongside you.
That’s why I fight.
What do you fight for?
If you’re a writer and want to join me in my fight for freedom, take a look at my writers’ group, The Literati.
The Literati is my main gig these days — the one that saved me from my business completely tanking — and it’s the embodiment of not only “my” freedom but the freedom of every member: writers from all walks of life who unite to make their creative journeys rewarding experiences of purpose, passion and freedom.
This is a uniquely positive and communal digital writers’ group that exists to provide a supportive environment for writers who wish to create freedom in their lives through writing, business, and personal endeavor — guided by yours truly, an incredibly amazing curriculum, monthly workshops, guest author interviews, a private Facebook group for discussion and much more.
We’re accepting new members into our community now Our doors close by the end of January. Eight new members have joined in the last two days.
I’m inviting you to join because, if you’ve read this far, I have a feeling that you too want the freedom, passion and purpose in your life that you know you deserve.
I want to help you get there.