To be humble, to be kind.

Having morals, values, being noble and principled should take you pretty far in life. Being generous, helping people when they need it, smiling is never bad, all good ways to be. Some of us are emotionally wired to be that way, very cool if you’re one of those amazing people. On the flip side, some of us aren’t, and that’s okay, but don’t we all try to do the best we can, if we can and treat everyone in our lives in the greatest possible way? It’s perhaps a fanciful notion, but it’s always better to hear a kind word from someone than a nasty one. Small gestures, reaching out when you know that someone needs help, a call, an email, a text, nothing wrong with an impromptu visit.

It’s easy to ponder over what to do sometimes, but if you feel in your heart that something is right and you know you have to do it, then aren’t you doing the right thing? We’re all flawed, we make mistakes occasionally, but sometimes we don’t make decisions because they’re easy; we make them because they’re right. Doing what you should for someone else is a good deed, but can’t it also help you? If you’re feeling down, struggling with whatever you have going on in your life, won’t reaching out and giving some time and thought to others make you feel a tiny bit happier inside? Even the smallest gesture can impact someone’s world in a way that you can perhaps never fully fathom. It can be a good world that we live in sometimes if we’re willing to try and make it a little better in our own way as often as we can.

A world that’s full of endless possibilities.

New York in November is an unforgiving mistress, the wind chill bites hard. It becomes even less so, if you’re out and about every day with a Red Sox beanie on. Insults come regularly, but it’s cool, this is the greatest city in the world, nothing can wipe the smile off of my face. I’ll happily discuss recent World Series wins with Yankees fans all day long. When you know a city well, chances are that you’ve done all of the touristy stuff. Trips become more about hanging out with friends that you don’t get to see very often, going for lunches and dinners, having copious amounts of late night drinks. We all have our favourite things to do, right? Watching the Jets at MetLife stick it to the Raiders. Eating PEI mussels with fra diavolo and drinking jalapeno margaritas at Banc on Third. Spending a lazy day whilst friends are working, reading newspapers and making an impressive dent in the beer list at Blind Tiger, before hitting John’s for the best pizza in the city. Drinking cold Patron on the rooftop whilst the Empire State Building dominates the background. There are worse ways to spend days and nights, but it’s easy to forget how blessed you can be to be able to do the things that you want to.

That lesson is rammed home in the space of less than quarter of an hour. An evening is spent alone at Zum Schneider in the East Village, not everyone can partake on a school night. Like a lot of people sitting on their own, I’m scrolling through my phone. A notification pops up from YouTube and I check it out. It’s a couple of young guys who travel the country tasting various foods at different price points and then give their verdict on which particular dish was the best value for money. Sounds like fun, pretty harmless, but not when they’re eating a hotdog in Seattle that costs $169. To be fair to the guys behind it, they give the profits to charity, but the overriding thought is, ‘Why aren’t people spending that money in a better way, to do better?’ I’m still shaking my head when a van with City Harvest written on it drives by. I’ve never heard of them so I check them out and it’s humbling. They’re the largest food rescue organisation in New York, dedicated to collecting fresh food that would otherwise go to waste, and delivering it, free of charge to hundreds of community food programs, food pantries and soup kitchens all across the five boroughs. Nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers face hunger every year, including one in five children and that’s fucking unacceptable. It’s okay to feel foolish now and again.

They need volunteers to help out and given how much I’ve enjoyed having fun in this city, it can’t hurt to give something back to it. It’s an absolute eye opener and there are tears more than once. To see people come together, to give up their time to help others isn’t something that’s always on your radar. It’s a cold, long night but at least I know that when it ends, my head will hit a pillow and I’ll have my pick of what to eat in the morning. That’s not always been the case, so it’s something that I’m blessed to have discovered. Trudging back to the hotel, shuffle does that thing it regularly does and throws up a perfect song, my smile is rueful. It was written to help support Newtown after the terrible school tragedy and it’s been adopted by more than one charitable organisation, truly a wonderful thing.

The lesson learned?

How unbelievably fortunate we are, how insignificant some of our problems are compared to millions of others. Sure, we perhaps realise them on some sort of level, but now and again, something comes along to make you appreciate the things you have and how lucky your life really is.

We are how we treat each other and nothing more.

@TheSamMcLeod

It’s simply one neighbour helping another. 61 million pounds of fresh food would go to waste if City Harvest didn’t step in to help feed the people who need it most. Just $1 helps feed a family in need for a day, $36 helps feed 133 New Yorkers for a day, $52 helps feed 27 individuals for a week, $83 helps feed 3 families for a month, whilst $135 will feed a senior for more than a year. If you can spare some time to volunteer, I guarantee it’ll change your life.

Support them if you can at http://www.cityharvest.org

You’ve got it at your fingertips.

You’d do anything for the people in your life that you care about, wouldn’t you? No cry for help or question goes unanswered if a call comes, when you’re needed, you’re there. An email, a text, maybe a visit needs to happen. Shit, sometimes, your presence isn’t necessarily wanted or expected, but when you know something is wrong, you get there, you help in any way you can. Sometimes a cuddle is needed, sometimes harsh words need to be said, albeit in a caring way, sometimes just being around when that someone finally realised that when they need someone to pour their heart out to will help, even if they don’t realise it in that initial moment. We all have two ears and one mouth, sometimes it’s much better to listen than speak, especially if it’s someone who tugs at your heartstrings because they’re struggling and they need you, or they need someone.

We all need someone now and again, especially when you can’t tell that you’re bigger than the sea that you’re sinking in.

A visit becomes a little tougher when they’re over 8000km away, although an offer is made, yet politely gets declined. Calls happen though, texts are exchanged, thank goodness for FaceTime. That said, it’s never easy to watch a friend struggle, to see them cry, to be able to witness their fragility. It doesn’t take too long to catch on to the things that she’s trying to say without her being able to articulate the words. What advice can you give from so far away without everything that leaves your mouth sounding like a cliche? ‘It’ll all get better in time, there are plenty more fish in the sea, you were better than him anyway.’ How easy it is for those words to sound hollow? Finally something I say makes sense, ‘How about heading away for a few days somewhere, have a change of scenery and try and collect your thoughts?’ A couple of days pass and I don’t hear from her, but you give the people in your life what they need, even if that’s a little bit of space. You can try and help all you want to but sometimes, they need to get to a place on their own when they begin to think that they’ll be okay.

A call comes and she’s at the airport. Not her airport, my airport, can I go and get her? I can’t, but she knows where I live and she knows that my neighbour has a spare set of keys so she heads there. Work is finally done, I get back to my place and she’s already there, is already in pyjamas and has managed to demolish a large part of a bottle of bourbon. Usually this would be a great night together, music on, maybe a film and just hanging out. Given everything that’s happened though, letting her finish the bottle would be a bad idea. We sit, we talk, she cries, we hug and awful television is watched.

She falls asleep so I take the chance to make up the spare room, who doesn’t like fresh bedding, although by this point, I doubt she’d even notice. I pick her up, lay her gently into bed and pull the covers over her. I head for the kitchen, grab a couple of bottles of water from the fridge and stick one on each side of her on the bedside tables. The lights get turned out in her room and I watch the rest of the shitty TV show and make sure that there will be no bourbon left by morning.

It’s been a long day emotionally so it’s time for bed. I climb in and as soon as my head hits the pillow, sleep isn’t far behind me. I’ve no idea how long it is, but I feel something, turn over and there she is next to me with her hands on me, trying to kiss me. A few years ago, absolutely. Right now? Zero chance. We have a difficult conversation, mostly because she’s still drunk but I lead her back to the spare room and put her to bed. Again.

Her actions are understandable, maybe we’ve all been there. Perhaps nothing numbs the sting of a breakup quite like a rebound fling or relationship. Toxic for some people, but maybe beneficial for others. Maybe sometimes it could grow into something amazing, but this isn’t one of those times. Don’t you both need to be on the same page about whatever the fuck this is? No point in dragging someone else into your emotional horror show while letting them believe that there’s a chance that your new relationship could be something real. Sure, it’s easy to assume that once they’ve finally healed from their breakup, that they’ll look to you as the knight in shining armour who swept into their life at just the right time to make it all better, but how is that a basis for something new?

It’s more than okay to hurt, but maybe if you’re in pain, you should try and heal, rather than move onto someone else straight away. A rebound will never the best idea you’ve ever had, everything should happen with dignity and especially when you’re sober. Take time to heal before committing to someone new, right?

No one wants to be the first person to be picked out of a lineup of a potential new partner.

It’s not going to be fun if I start to get feelings for her in a different way, there’s no way that it’ll happen though, to make her hope that things will be anything different, anything more than just a friendship. Once upon a time, maybe, but she chose someone else and that’s okay, but no one should want to be a rebound, I certainly don’t. Hopefully the morning comes, she remembers and apologises, or forgets completely. It’s okay to be alone and wait for the right girl but what’s the point in ever allowing your own loneliness to drive you into the arms of someone that you know that you don’t belong with?

It’s not difficult to get over the possibility of a relationship that I wasn’t even in, but it doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t hurt for her.

The morning comes, I’m awake first and breakfast is made, complete with a shit ton of coffee. She wakes, comes through, looks at me, hugs, says sorry and that’s enough. Saying sorry is always enough. She’ll be okay in time, cliche again, but she’ll always have a friend who has her back.

She stays for a few more days and we do things that friends do. It’s okay to put your arm around someone when they’re hurting, long walks are cathartic. She’s still hurting but K, I know that you’ll be okay.

I know you think your fire is burning out but I still see you shining through, you’ve got it in you.

@TheSamMcLeod

Give yourself a moment.

We all have a lot of stuff going on in our lives. Some good things, maybe some great things, some bad things, maybe some awful things. We all have a ton of problems, different things that we need to think about, to make decisions on every day. Some of them are known only to you; some might involve other people. Some things are big, some are little, but they’re definitely different for all of us. All of our problems are unique though, because we are unique. We all lead lives filled with issues, some can be changed or fixed easily, some can have you scratching your head about what the fuck to do about them. Just life I guess, sucks to be an adult at times.

Life can throw you a curveball when other people’s problems impact your life. You’d do anything for your family or friends though, wouldn’t you? Time to look after them before focussing on yourself, but whilst it’s not always the easiest thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Help others, but if you can’t, the last thing you want to do is hurt them, so you try your hardest. Advice, a shoulder to cry on, letting them know that you’re at the end of the phone for them, let them know that they’re not alone. The little things sometimes turn into the biggest things. Isn’t it a beautiful concept that others come first and you come second? Perhaps it’s a form of love that makes you think, that makes you believe that the happiness of another person is essential to your own happiness. Loving a friend so selflessly means that you share in their happiness whether you are part of it or not.That can never be bad, make someone happy and be happy too, win win. Sure it’s easy to take from people, but sometimes all you can do is give until it hurts. You give what you can whether it’s a little or a lot. Maybe it’s who we are from the start? Like everyone that’s gone before all of us, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy to be a good friend to others but sometimes it’s more difficult to be more of a friend to yourself.

Caring and thinking of others is awesome but if your present moment is filled with good things, and you’re switched on, you see them. Maybe you need to give yourself your own advice and take yourself away from life for a while, and get totally immersed in the right now rather than everything else that’s going on around you. You need to stop and take a breath sometimes, give yourself a moment and let your body be. Count one, two, three.

An email drops into my inbox that I don’t expect. I don’t know the person, I have no idea when I see their email address and picture as to why I’m even on their radar. I read the message, I understand it and it’s an opportunity to change my life. Not in a Nigerian prince offering billions of dollars for my bank account details kind of way, but something that will need to turn the focus on myself, rather than the friends and family that I’ve been making sure are okay for the past number of years. It feels like that all I have and that all I need is right here in this moment. My index finger hovers over the reply icon. What if life is about not knowing as much as you think you know, about having to change everything, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next? Scary, but maybe every great move forward in your life begins with a leap of faith, with putting one foot in front of the other, taking a step into the unknown. I can be here now but will it be better to be somewhere else later? Consonants and vowels are formed, words take shape. The index finger hovers again but finally clicks the send button.

It’s taking a chance, but shouldn’t you try and promise yourself that you’ll enjoy every minute of the day that is given to you? No point in fucking worrying yourself with what happened yesterday, or what’s going to happen tomorrow, none of us know. What if you get that one call, that one email, that one text, that might change the possibility of everything for you? Maybe we all need to learn that this moment is enough, as long as we have the belief to make it so. It’s all an adventure, so why not try and look after yourself from time to time?

We all endure tough times and the dawning of a new year can feel almost cathartic. Looking after people rather than yourself is an emotionally draining experience. The here and now is all we have, but if we get it right, isn’t it all we’ll need? Nothing is more important than this day. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so the focus needs to be on today. That said, there’s less than 72 hours until a meeting that could change my life forever. Those people I’ve been fighting for are okay now, but they might need to be without me for a little while, because this is about me for a second.

Excited?

It’s okay to be chasing stars and to find a place and lose it.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife