This week I’ve been in NYC on equal parts work and pleasure. I lived in NYC in my twenties, and so when I come back I try to jam-pack my visit with as many meetings and meals as I can squeeze in. What I love most about the city is its energy and the sense of endless opportunities, and this week I definitely got my fix.
But this week, I got something more. I got unexpected bursts of inspiration, whimsy, and hope in unusual places. See, I’ve been working hard at noticing more. Noticing what’s going on around me, noticing how I’m feeling about it, noticing the beauty in just about everything. It’s part of what I’m learning to do through the life coach training program I’m doing with Martha Beck. I’ve discovered that when I tune in more to each moment and what’s happening around me, life just feels better.
So when I was in NYC this week, I decided to notice. And as it turned out, the city had some messages for me. Literally.
The first message was on the stairs leading up from the subway station on 28th and Broadway. I had just dropped my 6-year-old son off at science camp and was feeling anxious about whether or not he’d do okay. They were going on a field trip after all, and he’s not a NYC city kid. I was thinking about what his day might be like as I walked up the stairs and saw these words written in black paint along the back of one step:
Everything is going to be alright
I had to laugh. Thanks universe, I thought to myself. And somehow, I knew that message was for me.
The next message came the following afternoon. I had a free hour to exercise, so feeling nostalgic, I grabbed my iPod, laced up, and ran to Central Park to do my
old running loop. Amidst a ton of other runners, bikers, roller bladers, tourists in horse-drawn buggies, I ran and thought about the meetings I’d had, the work I wanted to do, the dreams I wanted to accomplish. My mind was racing as I tried to sort through my jumble of thoughts about what I should be doing next, where to focus my energies, how to make the most of the opportunities I was being presented with. That’s when I started noticing messages along the running trail. Written in all caps in chalk every couple of hundred meters or so were the following words:
Become Your Dream
Well, that message couldn’t really have been any clearer. I laughed again as I wondered about who had scribbled all these messages, curious about their motivation and thinking about how many people had read and were internalizing this beautiful message. I finished my run feeling sweaty, exhausted, and exhilerated.
The last message (at least handwritten one) of my trip came two mornings later. I was meeting with an old friend at Union Square to share a bagel and sit in the park to catch up. We had a long talk about the things I’ve been trying to practice in my everyday life – living in the moment, being present, and noticing. And as we walked to the subway station to hug goodbye, we walked over the following message scrawled on the sidewalk:
Be mindful even if your mind is full
It was just what I needed to hear, just the send off I needed as I went back to my friend’s place to pack up my things so I could move on to the next leg of my journey. Because that message confirmed to me what all this noticing has pointed out – when you are living your life in the moment (not fixated on what went wrong last week or what might happen in the future), life can be truly magical. And who doesn’t need a little magic in their life?
How about you? Have you ever gotten a message in an unusual way? How did you know it was for you and how did you react?