Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.
But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.
All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.
Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.
These words and quotes have been weighing on my mind these past weeks as I consider what I’ve really been doing spending a few days here and there in some of the United States’ most incredible cities. (Seattle! New Orleans! Chicago! Salt Lake!) And truthfully in many ways there aren’t that many differences. I know the respective locals are having an outcry, and the cities are different and unique shaped by the land where they lie, their varying histories and the people who now make up their citizenry. But they are all U.S. cities.
They each have their good hoods and their bad hoods. Each city offers me a new and interesting challenge. I am very undecided which way to go.
Salt Lake City
The SL,UT is my first love. We have had an incredible history and she is one of the few to ever take me back after I’va abandoned her recklessly for my own adrenaline rush. The city is beautiful. People are friendly in their own guarded, judging way. I know the streets, I know the town, I know how the game is played. There is very little that surprises me anymore in this place of saints and sinners.
I love it here, but I’m ready for a change.
However knowing the place I am has it benefits financial and personal. I have an existing (and pre-existing) community of friends, family and supporters. People around me who know me and want me to do well. There are people in this valley who will help me to accomplish my goals. I’m sure of it, all I have to do is ask.
I loved my trip out west. (Rikki is pretty awesome company, y’all!) The Emerald City is gorgeous in a way that’s almost unreal. There are fantastic neighborhoods for starving artists and writers to convene and discuss all their ideas. A good time is easy to come by. It’s obviously a great place to be young, single and living la vida loca. (Yes, that’s a Ricky Martin reference. No, I don’t care.)
But it’s a city I could get lost in. I don’t have much of a community there. I would have to start over rebuilding relationships to find a creative and supportive network who is willing to take in one more struggling writer.
In a strange way, I love feeling lost. (Travel, much?) It’s what I miss most when I’m home in SLC–that sense of surprise and adventure around every corner–that sense of exploring new worlds. I miss learning and discovery.
From the moment I drove into NOLA I knew this was a place where I could make a difference. No, I don’t think I could just go into that city of broken buildings and fix everything. But I love helping people, I love fixing things. I know I could join and contribute to the small but vibrant community of writers, artists, musicians, drinkers, foodies and boozers in that town.
I am one.
And I’m always willing to welcome more.
Everyone is so damn nice in that city. It’s no wonder it’s a stopping place for vagabonds and vagrants. Hell, buy me a Uhaul and I’d move in tomorrow. The Crescent City holds my heart if Salt Lake has my soul.
Walking the streets of Lincoln Park, seeing the artists selling their paintings, photos and crafts in the neighborly shops, I had an epiphany. “This city welcomes the creative class.” And I want very much to be one of those people.
Chicago has an incredible support system for musicians, artists, writers, comedians, filmmakers and anyone else doing their damnedest to make a living while staying out of an office. (That explains all the restaurants, bars and cafes, too!) The trouble is it’s such a large city so rife with opportunity, I fail to see how one small voice among so many would make much difference.
In a way, I believe I have never been given much opportunity, but that’s also been the secret to some of my limited successes. If there isn’t much competition, it’s easy to win. And I’ve done okay in small groups. (How hard is it to be film student of the year when you started the film program at your school?) Even living in South Korea where everyone lived so close to one another and the populations were enormous, as a white person I was a minority, I stood out, I was still a fish in a little pond.
Now I’m not so sure what I want. I am committed to staying in Utah for the next little while as it makes the most financial sense, but after that?
Salt Lake remains my ratty sweater home that just won’t sit right no matter how much I itch. And my options, my options are wide open. But it comes down to priorities, doesn’t it? And I don’t know which I want to choose? Impact? Or opportunity?
What would you choose?