Tag Archives: Strangers

Happiness

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“If you want to view paradise–simply look around and view it
anything you want to–do it!
want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”

The Willy Wonka words echo off my computer as I awake on Saturday morning. However, in my head, I am changing the words–I am swapping out paradise, and slotting in Happiness. Because if you want to view happiness–I believe we can all look around and view it.

And Saturday, I was going to make sure of it.

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As I wake up, on Saturday, I say to myself, “Today–is an important day. Today, I am completing my 52nd hobby.” For anyone who has been following along, you’ll know that my original goal for this project turned lifestyle was to try 52 new hobbies in 52 weeks. About two months ago that goal changed–My new plan is to finish at least one hobby a week for 52 weeks, ending with a road trip across the country in February. But that doesn’t mean my 52nd hobby isn’t a significant one. In fact, it’s one of the ones that means the most to me–because it’s a sign of achievement–even if my new goal is to exceed it.

“Anything you want to, do it” plays through my speakers, and I smile.

“Today I am going to complete my 52nd hobby,” I breathe of relief.

***Never doubt a dream, always move forward…Like the song says…
Anything you want to do…Do it.***

But though my excitement for hobby 52 is high on Saturday, my will to go out and do it is quickly hampered as I wake up and see that it’s cold–and gray–but not just cold and gray–it’s pretty much a frigid apocalypse outside with gusting winds up to 50mph and snow flurries pleasantly beginning to fall. I struggle. It would be the perfect day to stay in bed–all day, to get dressed at 5pm and eat cereal for all three meals in my pajamas. But I had made a plan–and that plan included to complete my 52nd hobby, by traveling to each of the five boroughs and chalking the word happiness. I groggily got out of bed and decided that this was better than chalking happiness when the weather is perfect–because in the case of clear skies, people are likely to already feel happier. This was my time to spread happiness–even if the weather was threatening otherwise.

It took me no more than 7 hours to complete my trip to each borough and tattoo the word happiness into the sidewalk of each.

It took me no more than 7 hours to etch happiness right outside my doorstep in Brooklyn. It took me no more than 7 hours to experience the excitement of families going on the Staten Island Ferry and having an amazing view of Manhattan. It took me no more than 7 hours to witness the wealth of joy outside the doorstep of my favorite chocolate shop in Manhattan, as a homeless man approached me and thanked me for the happiness.It took me no more than 7 hours to clear my negative image of the Bronx and leave a positive message behind. And it took me no more than 7 hours to make my way to Queens and chalk happiness into a park that I once danced happiness into–just two years ago.

The truth was–that in each borough– It took me no more than moments to see that even though I was physically spreading the word happiness–it was all around me. It was in the faces of children who’d never been on a boat. It was in the faces of those who told me they had nothing but still felt joy. It was in the faces of those walking through streets of the Bronx—and it was in the faceof the child who stood up on the subway seat and peered out the window on an above ground train heading to Queens. It was in the taxi driver who got me from downtown Manhattan to Grand Central. It was in the cappuccino that I drank mid-morning. It was in the face of the man with his child who strolled past me on Fordham Road. It was in the skateboarders who skated through the park while I finished my last borough tattoo. Happiness was truly–everywhere.

And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.

Here’s to 52 hobbies–and many, many more. and here is to happiness. Cheers.

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Checkmate

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In New York City—it’s not every day that a stranger tells you that they have faith in you—or that they believe in you—or that they even want to sit down and chat with you—even for a few moments. I can attest to this—because I often try to sit down and talk to strangers.

 So when all of this happened–on a Friday night in Union Square, you can imagine my surprise, and my joy over it.

The truth is, I wasn’t expecting to sit across from a man in the middle of the park. I had another hobby planned for the week, but upon discovering that the original hobby wasn’t going to happen, I decided to try something more relaxed, novel, and New Yorky—so I headed to the park, found a chess player who didn’t have an opponent, and sat down.

 “Can we play?” I asked.

 He rolled his eyes at me. “I guess.”

 I wondered why he was so upset. I clearly hadn’t done anything wrong yet—except appear to be a novice who didn’t know the difference between a knight and…well a horse….

 I sat quietly for another moment, hoping he wouldn’t ask me to leave.

 “I’ve been waiting here for an HOUR for my friend. An HOUR. I HATE waiting,” he said as a distraught look overcame his eyes.

 “I hate waiting too. It means people don’t value other people’s time. I’m sorry that happened to you.”

He rolled his eyes again.

 “I mean it,” I said. “Waiting sucks.”

He smiled. “Waiting does suck.”

 “What’s your name?” I asked.

 “David.”

 “Good. David, my name’s Libby. Nice to meet you,” I smiled and held out my hand. He shook it.

 “How much is this lesson going to cost you?” He went on.

 I smiled. “I’m not sure, but there’s an ATM over there…and”

 “Now we’re talking.”

 And then before I knew it, he was teaching me the first eight moves to make on a chessboard. He was lifting pawns…sliding knights…building a moat—I mean…setting up opposition. Let’s just say he was doing his thing.

 “This is how I teach my 8 year old son. You got it? Good. Now show me the first 8 moves you can make on a board.”

 I went to move a piece.

 “No,” he sternly objected. “Not right.”

 Reminder to self—don’t pick an intellectual hobby when you’re looking for something calm.

 I tried again.

 “Good.  You’re a quick learner.”

 Now try another move…

 “Can I tell you something?” I stuttered.

 “Yes…”

 “I am playing chess tonight because I am doing this project, where I try one new thing a week—for the entire year…”

 “Well then let me ask you something,” He said, shifting the attention, and smiling. He lowered the volume of his voice.

“Okay…”

 “Have you ever slept with a black man before,” He began to laugh hysterically—as did I, before responding—“Not this week.”

 We laughed together and I told him he should try stand-up.

 “Naw…not for me.”

 “Well then come to a show sometime,” I responded, as I told him that I do stand up.

 “You do stand-up” he said. And we continued to converse while I slowly (kind of) learned some new tools for the next time I sat down in a chess match.

 And just as we were finishing our lesson, one of his friends came along.

“Man—meet Libby—she’s a comedian. She’s going to be famous one day. I am going to see her on Comedy Central…she’s funny. She’s going to be a star. People aren’t going to believe me when I say I know her.”

I don’t know what made him say this—I don’t know what energy was in the air—but I do know it made me smile—a big smile. He didn’t even know me—and he believed in me.

 Let’s just say—he didn’t check a mate that night with his joke—but he did indeed open my eyes—and my heart.

 The truth is, when a stranger has faith in you—after only moments of knowing you—it is an incredible feeling—and it makes you wonder how you’ve ever doubted yourself.

Checkmate.

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