Doing what you can

There is nothing, NOTHING like New York! And even if it’s cliché, I have to say: I LOVE NEW YORK!

A couple of weeks ago, I took my seemingly annual summer trip to the Big Apple to speak at Columbia University. Only this time, instead of just bringing my wife, Marvelyne, I also drugged my parents.

My dad was celebrating his 70th birthday the day we arrived and he wanted his first trip to the city to be one he will never forget. And I’m pretty sure we did it, and more!

In six hours, Dad took his first limo ride, tasted the world’s best soul food, dominated the subway, walked through Times Square, and of course spotted some of New York’s “colorful” people. Not a bad time for a self-admitting Missouri Highlander!

While riding the D train uptown, we had another experience that, for me, sums up New York. One guy stood on the subway and, with all the finesse of a master speaker, began talking to the passengers.

“My name is BLUE and I am a local New York City poet. I have written four books, the most recent, ‘Don’t hit your kids or they’ll turn out like me.’ Includes one of my favorites, ‘A Good Way to Know you’re in a bad neighborhood is when you see a lot of churches. ‘”

We all laughed at the titles which, of course, was his intention. But in reality, BLUE is a serious businessman. I mean, he has taken the time to write, edit, publish, and publicize at least four books. You have a working website. And instead of relying on conventional sales methods, he’s hitting the pavement (errr on the subway) promoting his art AND providing passengers with some entertainment.

As an author, I am often asked how to write a book. Soooo many people have a dream, a thought, a vision of writing, but they don’t know where to start. I know that feeling very well! However, when people get down to business and learn how much time, energy and money it will take to publish the book, they often decide to leave it as a dream. The investment seems like a lot if there is no secure major publishing contract in the offer. BLUE is NOT one of these people!

Not everyone can get their books from bookstores and be available to a national audience. (Actually, MOST people can’t.) It doesn’t really matter if the quality of the writing surpasses Shakespeare, and the plot is the next Harry Potter. If no one knows, it is as if it does not exist at all.

What impressed me so much about BLUE is how he’s out there, not living off a dream, but doing what he can to make that dream come true. You may not have a billion dollar advance with a major publisher, but you have a gift for being in front of an audience and you use that gift every day on the train. He exemplifies the “Change the things you can” message that my audience sees, and I am proud to have been able to witness his art in its natural environment.

With all the financial and corporate troubles, everyone seems to be really focused on getting by on a day-to-day basis. Who can follow a dream when you have to pay rent, buy food, pay a debt? There’s this whole practical side of life to deal with, right?

I am great in reality and I do what needs to be done to survive. I also know this: if we expect every detail to be perfect, we will probably never see our dreams come true. Why? Because perfection does not exist.

Instead of waiting for the moment, the stage, etc. perfect, look around. See what you CAN do … right now. When we change our lives, we touch our community, we help our neighbor, we follow our dream, then we can truly see how our individual actions can help change the world.

PS: And if you want to learn more about BLUE’s poetry, check it out on FaceBook: Brad Bathgate