Recently I made a long weekend trip with my kids to visit my brother in the upper west side of New York City. I determined the 5 hour drive and immersion into culture and life so far different from my daily grind would be a good respite from the struggles to live less/more/abundantly.
As we rounded the corner past the factories and the former title sequence for the Sopranos, we played this song on my neon speaker. My oldest kept screaming, “I see it! There’s the Empire State Building!”-pause-“Oh…wait, that’s just a radio tower…”
We walked. We ate. We had a dance party in a yogurt shop we renamed, ‘Fro-Yo Mamas’. We climbed rocks in Central Park. We slurped milk shakes on park benches. We watched a crazed volunteer museum attendant vehemently inform us we are going to live on the moon and very SOON! We gazed up at the Statue of Liberty. We shopped the adult version of Dante’s 11th Circle of Hell-Toys R Us during tourist season. It was magical for the kids and myself.
The entire time, as we walked the hundreds of miles familiar to urban dwellers, I prayed. Quietly and only to myself I prayed. I quieted the gorilla of depression by choosing to smile instead of cry. I kicked him in the shins by getting up early when I wanted to hide under the covers. I crushed anxiety by hugging squirrely, soaking wet, little fellas at a public water playscape. I let myself cry over pizza and friendship and family, unashamedly snotting into the napkin.
On a subway ride to eat the best pizza on the planet, Joe’s on 8th and Broadway, I engaged in a habit I’ve had since I was four-reading everything printed within view. I always do this, sometimes to pass the time, others to gain marketing and communication ideas.
Emblazoned on the wall was a poster for a local college. A student, Julio, was pictured. The copy included his story of overcoming obstacles and gaining his degree. It was an unremarkable save for the tagline, “The only thing stopping me was me.”
As the subway bounced and roared its way through graffiti’d tunnels, I realized, like Julio, the only thing stopping me is-me.
No trumpets sounded. No great wash of freedom flowed over me. No sparkling gold dust descended from the heavens. However, something settled within me. Like a card sliding into an envelope, the idea filled a hole in my thinking.
Later I checked my FB page. There a dear friend posted this picture.
He posted it with the caption, “Need clarification?”
At first I thought it was a delightful, “Have fun in the Big Apple!” shout out.
Then it hit me. In New York, King Kong met his demise falling from the heights of the Empire State Building.
I have long equated depression with a large gorilla.
At the same time I am realizing the only thing stopping me is me, my dear friend is reminding me it is in New York that the gorilla dies.
On my trip I gained a “New” York state of mind. A state of mind where gorillas fall and revelations ride the subways into my mind and spirit-stopping only to deliver freedom and strength.