It's a Hard Life After All

It's a Hard Life After All

Living in the city can expose you to the extremities of life.  Life in general is not easy.  Unless you live the hard life, you are not prone to be exposed to the harshness of life.  My trip to New York made the harshness of life very real to me, and it broke my heart.

Over the weekend, I went with a few friends to explore the Big Apple for two very packed days.  I think we covered lots within our short time.  Throughout the trip, I found myself thinking very deeply about how each and every person has a story, and many of which I would like to hear.  I would like to hear the stories of the homeless living on the streets.  Homelessness is very real here in Washington, D.C., but I feel it is even more so in New York City.  Benches around the city were claimed by individuals and their very simple belongings.  That bench was all they have to claim as their own, even though it belonged to the city.  Thus they belonged to the city.  Walking down the street past overextended concrete buildings, we would cross people taking cover in the crevice of one of the walls.  Sleep during the day, Rouse during the night.  Homelessness is a very harsh reality.  I doubt many of these precious people decided they wanted to live this lifestyle.  I am certain they have a story that could rock the worlds of people like me and you, who have the comfort of a home, of a family, and of golden opportunities.

In the NYC Subway.

There was not one corner I turned when I didn’t hear a completely different language from the one I had just heard across the street.   I found myself confused when I heard another group talking in English, because I thought my group was the only one – and even our group was conversing between Spanish, Urdu, and Bengali (I would throw in a few Chinese words here and there just for kicks and giggles).  So many immigrants come from around the world to live a life in New York.  Everyone has an accent.  Immigrants provide so much vibrancy to the culture of the United States.  Immigrants allow Americans to explore a different culture without leaving their home country.  Whereas some people feel strongly that immigrants are stealing American jobs, the jobs the majority of the immigrant population so graciously take are ones that Americans don’t find the time to do.  I honestly felt that New York City was a whole ‘notha world!  For someone who wants to live overseas, it was the perfect mixture of overseas diversity right there in one city.  Not once did I feel different or out of place, because we all belonged together in our own special way.

Even Spiderman was asking for money.

While in New York City, I also found several people who seemed to have embarked on the NYC storybook life – the escape from an old life to start a new one in New York City, but have to start from the very rock bottom and start over every single day.  One couple with a cardboard sign leaning on a building I passed grabbed my heart.  They had the typical gothic style of clothing, hair, and piercings and their cardboard sign read something about working or playing for food.  At that moment, we were leaving the city, but I so wanted to go back, take them out for lunch, and just listen to their struggles. I wanted to listen to their story because I just knew they had one.  Since I did not get this opportunity, the story made up in my head was that they had venture to New York City to work with their passion and make their lives a success; however since times were tough, they were barely able to get by.  As I continued walking towards our bus, all I could think about was whether they were going to have food that night . . .

One thing I have come to understand is that the world is only as big as you want it to be.  You can stay in your little hub and live there for the rest of your life, and that will be your world.  If you ever think that this world is a little more than what your narrow mind can understand right now, go find out and you will discover a crazy world more complex and vast than you ever imagined.  Through it all, it is of course important to establish your foundation. Once your foundation of beliefs is set, go out and explore life with an open mind.  Ask lots of questions, listen to people’s stories, and figure out where you stand in the middle of everything.  This may sound very fleeting, but all I can say is that I dreamed of a world bigger than what I was exposed to, and I have found it.  There is so much to experience and struggle through, but be certain to have a joy base that you can always return to.  Because the issues surrounding us can weigh us down.  When I find myself overwhelmed, I return to my Joy center and thank God for every breath that I get to breathe.

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More