How Gently Did You Live Your Life Today?

image - Flickr / Lauren Treece
image – Flickr / Lauren Treece

I moved to NYC at the end of the world. Nobody knew about the “World Wide Web” but they would within the year.

All the porn shops on 42nd street were shut down but they had yet to be destroyed. I had left my friends behind in another city and had yet to meet a single new friend.

All I cared about was playing chess, writing, and meeting girls, in reverse order.

I’d dress up in my one suit, take the bus for 1.5 hours into NYC, and stumble out of Grand Central to walk to the two blocks to HBO, a company where every day I was on the verge of getting fired my first six months there. 10,000 other people swarming in the same direction, in their same suits.

To make friends I’d introduce myself to everyone who would make eye contact with me. I think I asked every girl I saw out on a date, including the girl behind the plate glass counter I had to pay when my phone bill was late. (She said, “Yes”, we went on one date, and she stopped returning my calls).

Like anyone in their 20s I wanted to change the world, create art, and get rich. Or maybe just one of those. I had no idea. Maybe even more important: I was just lonely and wanted someone to touch.

The world seemed like a dream to me. Leaving the bus station I’d think to myself, “I’m in the FAMOUS New York City.” It was a champagne bottle waiting to pop and I was the cork, ready to fly into space.

I think Disney owned the porn shops on 42nd Street and big plans were being made. We were all at the beginning of BIG PLANS.

But this was in that gray transition period. I can’t think of a day in 1994 that wasn’t gray. Half dark, half light.

And it was during this time that each porn shop, for whatever reason, had a haiku on them.

For a very brief time, the wisdom of a god was scrawled onto each porn front. Everyone who had to squeeze their way down 42nd Street into the vast wide opening of the “real world” had to read these messages from above.

Here’s one of those haikus and I still have it hanging by my desk:

It is in your self-interest
To find a way
To be very tender. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated.

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