Doin’ What You Can

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There is nothing, NOTHING quite like New York City! And even if it’s a cliché’, I’ve gotta say – I LOVE NEW YORK!

A couple weeks ago, I made 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 drug along my parents.

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

Within six hours, Dad had taken his first limo ride, tasted the best soul food on earth, mastered the subway, walked thru Times Square and, of course, caught a glimpse of some of NYC’s “colorful” people. Not a bad time for a self-admitted hillbilly from Missouri!

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

“My name is BLUE and I’m a local New York City poet. I’ve written four books, most recently, ‘Don’t Beat Your Children Or They’ll Turn Out Like Me.’ It includes one of my favorites, ‘A Good Way To Tell That You’re In A Bad Neighborhood Is When You See A Lot Of Churches.'”

We all had a laugh at the titles which, of course, was his intent. But, really, BLUE is a serious businessman. I mean, he’s taken the time to write, edit, publish, and advertise at least four books. He has a website up and running. And instead of relying on the conventional methods of selling, he’s pounding the pavement (errr riding the subway) promoting his art AND giving passengers some entertainment.

Being an author, I’m often asked about how to write a book. Sooooo many people have a dream, a thought, a vision of writing – but don’t know where to begin. I know that feeling very well! Yet, when people get down to brass tacks and learn how much time, energy and money it’ll take to get the book out there, they often decide to leave it as a dream. The investment seems to much if there’s not a sure fire major publishing contract in the offering.

BLUE is NOT one of these people! Not everyone can get their books in bookstores and available to a national audience. (Actually MOST people can’t.) It doesn’t really matter if the quality of writing surpasses Shakespeare – and the story line is the next Harry Potter. If no one knows about it, it’s as if it doesn’t exist at all.

The thing that so impressed me about BLUE is how he’s out there, not living on a dream, but doing what he can to make that dream happen. He may not have a bazillion dollar advance with a major publisher, but he’s got a gift for being in front of an audience and he uses that gift every day on the train. He exemplifies the “Change the things you can” message my audiences witness – and I’m proud I got to witness his art in its natural environment.

With all the economy woes and corporate troubles, everyone seems really focused on just getting by, day to day. Who can follow a dream when there’s rent due, food to buy, debt to pay down? There’s this whole practical side of life to contend with, right? I’m big on reality and doing what needs to be done to survive. I also know this: if we wait for every detail to be perfect – we will probably never see our dreams become reality. Why? Because perfection doesn’t exist.

Instead of waiting for the perfect time, scenario, etc., look around. See what there is that you CAN do… right now. When we change our life, touch our community, help our neighbor, follow our dream – then we can really see how our individual actions can help change the world. P.S. And if you want to learn more about BLUE’s poetry, check him out on FaceBook: Brad Bathgate

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