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My Life As I Approach 50

December 6, 2011

It is now December 2011. Another year drips to a close. Another countdown ’til the big cystal ball starts its decent down that lonely flagpole, as a million tourist huddle together screaming and listening to bad rap music on a nearby platform. It’s the same scene we watch every year while we get drunk at a bar or in the warm home of some friends. We watch that ball slide down that same pole. It’s as though they can play the same video every year, and just change the year number. Really, only the last digit needs to be changed until the decade is through.

That is a popular spot in Manhattan, Times Square. I passed it every day for 1-1/2 years as I left the R train and headed west towards work at the Hearst Building. I was truly lucky to get that job, too. Each day I would cross Broadway, up by 57th Street. Looking to my left, I’d see the Times Square tower that supported the big television screen on that tower, along with a big digital display saying ‘2011’ towards the top, and some other advertising screens directly below. How lonely that spot looked compared to that crowds that gather there on that one night the big crystal ball decended the flagpole. That area is constantly flooded with tourists and native New Yorkers headed for a nearby destination. From a distance though, I could really only make out the tower.

This wasn’t New Years’s Eve though. Nor was this much of a time for celebration. I am walking to get to my little job delivering carts to one of the 43 stories of the Hearst Building at 300 W 57th Street, just 2 blocks from Columbus Circle–one of the 4 corners of Central Park. I still loved the city immensely. I was still happy to be living in what I considered to be the center of the universe. Just walking to work filled my being with the hope something better was nearby. Living in New York, there was always the possibility that within reach was the dream someone wanted to fulfill. It might not be apparent at the time. At this time, I was performing a very basic job in an otherwise exciting establishment. The Hearst Building is a modern building whose facade is completely glass except for some crisscrossing ribs that looked like intersecting triangles from the outside. The only exception to the glass was the four story base which had been the facade of the original building that had stood in that same spot. Because it was a historical building, the builders were unable to entirely remove the old, so they nestled the base of the new inside the older. Actually, it gives the building an extra unique look, and it works.

Within the glass walls of this building are published a dozen popular magazines, which include Oprah, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, Esquire, Marie Clair, and Popular Mechanics. Each magazine occupies one or two of the floors. My little job was to deliver cartloads of shopping bags, garment bags, and various other items to the various floors. I worked for a separate company called Swiss Post. Our operation occupied about 1/3rd of the second floor, which was still part of the older building that had previously stood there.

I started working for Swiss Post back in January of 2010. That job came to me just at the time I was in danger of becoming homeless. The prior couple of years had been disasterous for me. I had taken the job at Swiss Post during the time in my life when my focus was continually improving and I could accomplish tasks I would set out to complete. Swiss Post would become a place to work and make a little income while I decided what my next step would be. Swiss Post is a rising mail outsourcing company that performs postal work for many companies in Manhattan and worldwide. They service companies from as small as a few people to large companies with hundreds of employees. One of my first assignments as an employee of Swiss Post was working a temporay assignment for Simon & Schuster, the big publishing house at Rockefeller Center. I had only worked there 1-1/2 weeks filling in for someone who was ill. Working there was a dream-come-true since I love books. I received basic training on walking through the long winding aisles of shelves crammed with books, picking up and delivering envelopes of new books. I wanted to remain working at that location. After my time there was through, I was ready for a big assignement I was selected to perform.

Hearst was replacing the current mail company with Swiss Post. A group of 22 workers, including managers and supervisors were all going to start at the same time. We were all new to the setting. There were a handful of seasoned Hearst Mail employees who remained with the company and help make the transition between major mail operations run almost seamless. I worked here every weekday for 1-1/2 years, without taking a sickday. I worked in the messenger center. I was handed gray plastic carts of various items: usually several garment bags, several shopping bags of various sizes, envelopes, bottles of wine, and sometimes baked items, to one of 43 different floors. Normally I needed to make the rounds on a single trip, going to a number of different floors with items on one cart. I did this from the time I entered the building at 11am until I left in the evening at 8pm. Because of this schedule, most of a number of evening activities I had participated in prior to starting this job were eliminated from my consciousness. It was nice waking up a little later in the morning than needing to wake up at 5 or 6am, but my life seemed devoid of effective ways to meet my fellow New Yorkers. For 1-1/2 years, my life consisted of getting up 5 days a week to go down to this Hearst Tower and deliver items to people who were easily making 10 times the salary I was making, getting home by 9 PM, and having just enough energy to read for a couple of hours or surf on the Internet after I scraped up enough money to buy a laptop.

In the middle of my adult life, I had been able to fulfill one life-long dream of living in New York. No matter how miserable I felt from my empty life, the grace of New York seemed to force me to relinquish misgivings related to all my problems and to keep working towards something better. I considered the job with Swiss Post something far below my potential, but it gave me the opportunity to travel to Manhattan every day on the R subway train and walk up two blocks toward my place of work. I would pass several favorite delis and talk to familiar workers at these places, getting a cup of coffee, or some breakfast. It was a way to temporarily put off going to my retched job. On extra nice days, before I would start work, I could absorb warm sunshine as I sat out at Columbus Circle. There were big clocks affixed to buildings all around me reminding me when I needed to start work. I could watch the kids and the little doggies play in the street-level water fountains or I could read a book. Before I bought my laptop earlier this year, I would spend some time at a magazine store where I could pay to go on the Internet for a few minutes. There I could check my email, peruse my Facebook page, and read some headlines. The job wasn’t completely retched: despite the juvenile behaviors of some of the 20-something Swiss Post messengers I was forced to endure every day, I thoroughly enjoyed my dealings with professional editors in the tower I had the pleasure of serving. I’d always wish I was sitting at one of those desks on one of the magazine floors, but messanging was good enough. Maybe once I am making an income from my writings I will be sitting on one of those floors as a freelance writer.

My only other time for socializing was on the weekend. I go to one of several different churches. My first spiritual home is Self-Realization Fellowship. I have been involved with the teachings it desseminates for over 20 years. It’s the organization that taught me how to meditate properly. The center for this organization, however, is in Los Angeles. It is in California where the main center (Mother Center) and a number of monk-led temples are located. At the various meditation centers located around the United States, like the one in New York, and the world, are mostly run by lay people, who are only allowed to read printed lectures set by Mother Center. Self-Realization is very protective as to who is able to run the centers. Once I began living in New York, my mind was affixed upon the ideas that: I am now a resident of New York, I am on my own living in the big city, and I am ready to start another new life here. The best thing for me to do is to meet as many people here as I can. Find a place to network. Marble Collegiate Church became the perfect place for that. Technically, I was still a Christian. My relationship with God had grown very strong, throughout all my ordeals. I wanted to feel him by my side in all situations. Even though I spiritually lean toward Eastern concepts of Divine Mother and have a good understanding of the Aum Vibration, I still needed Christ in my life. Christ solitifies all of that for me and presented it to me as a single person.

It was one of the days after moving to New York I was feeling lost. I had moved here with the idea there were a couple of jobs waiting for me. Both turned out to be nothing. So I had moved here, a friend had paid my first months rent to a friend of ours for a room in his basement, but the chances of paying him for the next month seemed doubtful. In fact, I would miss rent for the next two months. I wanted to work and start making some needed money, but we were in the middle of an economic downturn. Business owners in New York were losing tons of money. Where would I find a job now? I deeply wanted to make connections with my now fellow New Yorkers. How would that ever happen? As I felt lost sitting in a subway train, I saw an ad for Marble Collegiate Church. I had  previously heard advertisements on the radio for Marble Church. It was the church Norman Vincent Peale was a head minister of for many years. They had a mid-week service on Wednesday evenings, which happened to be that night. I decided to go. It was the perfect place for me to attend Sunday, and Wednesday night services–until my 11am – 8pm work schedule wiped it out. Then, I could only go on Sundays. Marble is a big old church, originally established in 1628, is said to be the oldest church in America. The building it is now housed in was built in 1854.

Over the last 18 months, my life consisted of weekly carbon copies of the same reutine: doing my mail job 5 days a week, relaxing on Saturday reading a favorite book or doing some writing, and going to Marble Church on Sundays. If I could get myself up early enough on Sundays, I would go to meditate at Self-Realization Fellowship before the Marble service. Then I would be nice and focused and ready to listen to the message of the week by the current head minister, Micheal Brown. Everything at Marble Collegiate Church is centered around positive thinking and living. They have all kinds of support groups and outreach groups into the community. Marble Church is like a beacon of light set in the middle of New York. It offers intelligent interpretations of the Bible. It doesn’t matter to them if the earth was created in 7 days or over millions of years. Human beings are thinking persons who are looking for ways to express themselves spiritually and creatively.

My life is moving forward. I will be 50 in less than a month. It’s like a tidal wave moving in my direction and there is nowhere for me to hide. The number 50 reminds me there is no turning back from here. Throughout the first 50 years of my life, I had waged a battle. Something wasn’t right and it was my life mission to figure it out. Nobody was going to help me, which was fine. Over the second half of those first 50, I would find a trail that would eventually lead me to the mind I always new I had, but couldn’t find. Finding the wholeness, I intend to make life work for me, and to help others find their own wholeness. Many of the answers are relatively simple. We just need to know where to look.







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