A significant amount went to the staggering cost of living in San Francisco for close to a year.
Another large chunk went to friends and family for various reasons – art and music projects, trips to see relatives, etc – in other words, I gave it to people who were engaged in growing their careers / passions, their families, and their hearts.
I also tipped more frequently / in higher amounts than I ever have, gave money to charitable orgs, and regularly bought food and other items for folks living on the street (most of the time I do these things quietly and quickly – there’s a more nuanced point about why, which I’ll get to later).
Then, about a month ago, I was laid off. While it wasn’t my favorite moment of the year, it certainly wasn’t the worst either.
As I write this, I’m helping bootstrap a journalism startup from $0, have a bank account in the low hundreds, and am scratching together freelance writing & content planning/strategy to make my bills.
Oddly, I’m fairly comfortable with the situation – something that surprises even me at times.
*This is my response to an editorial piece by Questlove, which you can click here to read
If you put the two of us in a room together, we’d make an odd pair.
You, a black man with access to wealth, influence, and places I’ll never go.
I, a white man with access to goodwill and social capital that no one will ever accord you, regardless of how hard you try.
On the train home from work today, I looked a young black man in the face and we both nodded our heads ever so slightly in the standard greeting of city dwellers. Then I wondered what it would be like to live in his skin, to walk in his shoes.
He was an ordinary looking man, perhaps 25-35 years old, wearing jeans, a shirt, and a sweater. I know nothing about his life, other than that there is a singular characteristic about him that at its core is neither negative nor positive.
Stacking rocks for a roadside memorial on Highway 76 up to Chimayo this morning, I wondered which truck would lose control and wildly meld its’ tires to the road in an attempt to stop. Would I jump, startled, and the unfolding of my knees and legs save my life? Or would I look up without fear and watch the metallic wall fill my vision?
When I was 6 years old I was washed out to sea on the backs of galloping waves. There was no narrative, only sound and form and evidence that the World Works in Mysterious Ways and there is no controlling it.
Gomen nasai, innocence.
When I was 17 years old I traversed the ridge of the Sandias for miles and miles. The blue china bowl stretched around me forever and the freedom it gave made me feel closer to the earth. Where I used to step without fear now I tread with hesitation.
Gomen nasai, once confident soul.
When I was 23 years old I fell in love with someone who wasn’t capable yet of such a thing, and instead of joy my whole life filled with suffering. I learned to hide my dreams far inside the caverns of my chest, where no one could see them. Because of this I cannot dive deep enough to retrieve them now.
Gomen nasai, dreams.
When I was 27 I lost the one person I loved most on this earth. Because I miss the love of my mother, I have closed my heart. I have become incapable of accepting true love, and there are no tears that can atone for it.
Gomen nasai, broken heart.
Now I step carefully, choosing each foothold knowing there is no truly steady rock beneath. Such is life.