CONNECTING THEN AND NOW ON A WEDNESDAY IN URUGUAY:

It was the best day of my life.

I planned my dad’s 61st birthday, impeccably, from start to finish. I love my dad with my whole being, and this was one of those few, rare days. One of those days where I actually felt that I could show the depths of my love. I can’t think of many other nights in my 37 years on planet earth where I went to bed so fulfilled.

We ended the night in small cafe on 42nd and Broadway having dessert after a Broadway show. We walked east afterwards to the Roosevelt hotel where we all spent the night. I remember all the lights. I remember the rush of energy. I remember looking up at the billboards and ads and flux of stimulation. He was so happy. I was so happy. We were so happy.

That was almost a decade ago.

Last night, I was texting with my mom until 3 am. I sent her a picture and she said “I miss you soooo much.” I miss her too, and told her that.

But I also told her that we can’t get lost in the missing. We spend so much time missing people that are not here now that we actually miss what’s here now.

So, today, I’ve been making an effort to focus on what’s here now.

My feet. It’s cold in Uruguay. 10 minutes ago, my toes were cold. But now, they are getting warmed by the gentle flame of a fire I sit beside to write this text. I just looked at my feet and thanked them. For being so reliable and taking me all over this glorious globe. Thank your feet. They work really hard for you.

The silence. The silence between the crackles of that same fire. I love hearing a fire crackling. The crackle makes me want to write the next line. No silence, no crackle.

The flame. It dances with the wind. The wind. It dances with the flame.

Stress. The last several days have been full of stress for me. Financial stress, internal team stress, production stress, logistical stress, commitments from others that later fell through. A lot of stress. I used to suppress stress and pretend like it wasn’t happening. I don’t do that anymore.

Compassion. One of my neighbors here is going through some deep personal issues. He screams with rage several times a day. He is a teenager and has been in and out of a mental health facility lately for wanting to end his life. Today I saw him walking with his sister and mom on the street. They were smiling and laughing. We just have no idea what battles people are fighting, what demons they wrestle with, internal timebombs are close to exploding.

Access to Food. I listened to a podcast today on a bike ride I took around sunset. This guy was saying that he tries to eat 30 different fruits and vegetables a week. A few blocks later, I saw a man jump in a dumpster to look for food. I thought about how different these two worlds were. I was a lot more grateful for the food I put on my plate tonight.

Kindness: Today, I joined my beloved NAF swim group for an afternoon cold water swim in the ocean. But my wetsuit wouldn’t zip up. I was disappointed. I tried for 30 minutes, but it was jammed. During those 30 minutes, I was accompanied by a new friend Sebastian. He forfeited a lot of his swim to try and help.

One view: A few days ago, we put out a video about NAF, my swimming group. Today, a man who must have been in his 60’s come up to me after the rest of the group jumped into the water and said, “hey — you made that video for the swimming group didn’t you?” I said yes. He shook my hand and said, “well that’s why I’m here today. I want to join the group because your video inspired me.”

I have never, and will never, underestimate the power of one view.

Music: People say angels send messages through songs. I agree with that. But angels also send messages through the people we meet every day.

Today, one of the members of my swim team said he’d fix my wetsuit for me. I asked him what I owed him. He said, nothing.

He has a 1 year old son. When I left his home, he walked me out. He was going to walk around with his son. Right before I crossed the street, he shouted…

“Recommend me.”

Is this what you do? I asked him.

“It’s what I do now,” he told me and explained he lost his job during COVID, so now he repairs wetsuits.

Of course I will recommend you, I said. And I will.

I crossed the street, and looked back. I saw him holding his child’s hand as they walked down the street. I was 1 year old when my father started a new career, so I felt a deep connection to their story, their bond, their love.

As I biked away, I wondered if his son would one day plan his father’s perfect birthday.

Maybe it would be looking up at the Uruguayan sky, not the Manhattan skyline.

Maybe it would be under the South American sun, not the Time Square lights.

Maybe they’d talk in Spanish, not English.

Maybe in 37 years, they’ll read this post and remember today.

Because, even though my perfect day with my dad happened nearly 10 years ago.

Today made it feel like it happened just yesterday.

And I guess that’s the lesson.

The best way to feel everything that has led you here today.

Is to be here, today.

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