A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Still Look Up

Tourists are the ones looking up. There's an adage which says you can identify the New Yorkers as the ones unconcerned with their surroundings; tourists are distracted by the lights, the smells, the sights, the sounds of New York City. For residents, this glamorous city is really rather ordinary. Or, perhaps, we are really rather fabulous.

I'm not sold. As I wandered through midtown tonight, making my way to the Times Square subway stop to catch the 7 train into Queens, I caught myself equally as mesmerized by the flashing lights as the tourists I pretend to begrudge. For as much as I consider myself at home in this city, I still find myself caught in awe every now and then. When tourists are posing for pictures, I offer to help take their pictures. It's my part to dispel the image of angry New Yorkers but it's also an opportunity to share in a carefree moment of happiness. Growing up in DC, going to school in Los Angeles, and now working in New York, I've bounced from one American metropolis to another. City life should be old hat but the lights still dazzle. I take for granted that I'm one or two degrees of separation from almost everyone in the entertainment industry, yet I still get excited when I walk past a Law & Order crew... even though I'm friends with the VP in charge!

Perhaps this is the case with everyone, a life that is simultaneously extravagant and ordinary. I still remember the first time I saw myself on the news. Equality Ride training was wrapping up in Austin, TX and we went out dancing after a fundraiser when news coverage of our event appeared on the television screens. It was surreal.

I was asked to pose for picture at almost every stop during the Equality Ride. I remember walking to the grocery store in Rexburg, ID when a young lady ran from her job at a fast food restaurant jumping and waving, calling our attention. I was often told "I'm so impressed with the work you do," "I could never do this," "What you do so important." I've been asked to speak at Carnegie Mellon University and Marble Church and even still I get messages on social networking sites wanting to say hello, to talk with an Equality Rider.

And yet I can't escape the feeling of ordinariness. Only a month before Equality Ride I was sitting in my apartment eating Papa John's pizza and singing along to Comcast karaoke with my roommate Ryan and our friend Carolyn. I didn't do much, I just showed up. Of course, I don't intend to discount the incredible work the Equality Ride does. It is an exhausting, time consuming, agonizing, taxing, rewarding, and surreal experience. It took a great deal of training and preparation and an equal amount of debriefing. But at the same time, at the end of the day, I'm a young man who saw an opportunity to make a difference and took it.

And that's where I find myself today. A rather ordinary person doing rather extraordinary things. Serving the young adults community at my church, steering Soulforce NYC, working at a national television network, and traveling all over the country to do so; but living every day guided by small and simple decisions. Practicing non-violence, choosing to love, searching for faith, taking small steps towards justice, find beauty and value in the smallest of opportunities.

I'm a New Yorker now, the buzz of the Big Apple has become routine, but I still look up.


Drew said...

Well said!

I still will look up at Times Square as well. It's kind of not New York in a way to me. The village (both of 'em) SoHo, Tribeca, Little Italy, etc. are more of what New York is about to me. It's all about radically diverse people trying to get along in the same two mile long island. The spectacle is still spectacular, but the people are even better.

Brian said...

Yeah, I feel as if I should tell tourists "by the way, you need to leave midtown to really experience NYC." It's the places you don't think of which give New York so much of its character.

Similarly, Bono and Mother Teresa get attention as world changers but things that fly under the radar are changing the world as well. I know that I used to get caught up in "oh, that's not for me" until relatively recently when I came to realize that it can be for everyone, in their own way.

Vincent Cervantes said...

Here, here! There are times when more of us should still look up. Otherwise, we're just walking numbly through life. But very well said Brian!

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