- Person: Do you have Coke Zero?
- Store clerk: No, but we have diet coke.
- Person: Uhhhh... no thanks.
- Utility/necessity/purpose to belong and serve.
- Passion/optimism/love to keep the journey fun.
- Data/feedback/iteration to improve constantly.
- Taste/aesthetics/simplicity to make the world more beautiful.
- Focus/persistence/tenacity to never stop.
After I wrote and read through this list a hundred times, I came to an epiphany:
great products and entrepreneurs.
It’s what great people are made of. =)
When you hear New Yorkers claim their city is the ‘best’ in the world, you probably cringe, deny, and retort with something like: ‘Well, doesn’t everybody think their city is the best in the world? Anyway, what makes New York so great?’
You’d have a valid argument, would it not be for the fact that New Yorkers actually believe that statement, unlike most who utter it. And they’re right. It is the best city in the world.
Okay, you seem to be annoyed by this pompous hyperbolic claim, so let me step back a bit. For your sake, and for the meantime, I’ll just leave it to this: ‘In my humble opinion, it is my favorite city out of all those I have stepped foot in during my limited time on this planet.’ Happy now?
(And just to clarify even further, I’m not making a statement about New York being the finest, or my most favorite, place in the world. I mean city, and I measure that by taking into account factors people look for when considering cities.)
Now we’ll get to the fun part. What makes New York so great? Here’s an assessment after spending a total of roughly 50 days in the city, and having chosen to make it my new home.
Let’s start with the people. New Yorkers get a bad reputation everywhere for being blunt, timely, impatient, and sometimes, rude. When a rapper says he’s from New York or Brooklyn, you’re supposed to know exactly what that means, and respect him like he’s a veteran from two World Wars.
In the limited time that I’ve spent in this city, however, I think New Yorkers are largely misunderstood. Sure, they’re not overtly and excessively nice, and they don’t spend 10 minutes talking about the weather over the weekend. But, I’ve also never encountered a New Yorker who has been impatient or rude without understandable circumstances to precede it, and when it comes to the less-understandable other kind, I think you find those in every part of the world.
Here’s the thing about New Yorkers: they have shit to do, and they don’t want to waste anybody’s time. So when you meet them, they’re not going to indulge in a conversation or exchange pleasantries, but they’re also not going to get in your way when you try to get something done. They get it: life’s hard, and we’re all busy with our own thing.
To me, this mutual understanding is worth more than a community full of fake pleasantries and time-wasting social exchanges. But that’s just a personal thing.
Another thing I can say about its people: in New York, it’s impossible to ‘merely exist.’ I find that here, people are most aware of purpose and the search for meaning than any other city I’ve been to in the world. It’s not a city where you can drift by. It’s a city which makes you think about who you are, and where you want to go. In other words, it gives you the permission to dream, because everybody else is doing the same.
Without a doubt, if there was ever a transport system which deserved its own section in a post like this, it’s New York’s subway system. Let me clarify that by no means do I think it’s the best or most advanced in the world. Cities elsewhere have better and more modern transport systems.
But New York’s wins for a single reason: it’s the most convenient, well-planned transport system in the world. The city, quite literally, is built on it. Also, it’s the easiest to understand, but we’ll get to that later.
I appreciate the fact that no matter how much wealth or class you think you possess, it’s not something you can look down upon. Even if you drive a Porsche, you’ll consider it on occasions where you don’t want to spend that extra time and money on parking, or being stuck in traffic.
Apart from getting you from point A to point B, it’s an equalizer of humanity. You think you’re a more important human being than me? Fine. But you should know that for now, both of us are trying to get to the same place.
I finally have enough evidence to make an objective claim which I hope you’ll have trouble retorting. New York is the best goddamn planned city in the world. Whoever came up with the idea of Boroughs, and numbered streets running sideways/avenues up and down, is no less than a genius.
I don’t have the best sense of direction in the world. Quite honestly, I suck. In most cities, I’m often lost if I don’t have Google Maps with me, and even with it on hand sometimes, tend to make the wrong turns when I’m mislead by the GPS pointer shifting positions.
Not in New York.
In New York, I already and always feel like I know exactly where I am, and how I can get to any other place in the city. New York, despite being enormous in size, is easy, and this makes you feel powerful.
This is needless to say, so I’ve left it for the last. New York is a city you’ll want to walk around, and you’ll love doing it. Call it a concrete jungle, but you’ll have trouble denying it’s an extremely engaging one. There’s much to absorb in every street and avenue, and the historic legacy makes it all the more worth it. No matter which street you’re on, you know shit happened there at some time involving some people.
And I won’t even begin to talk about the health benefits. After a few weeks of living in New York, I don’t know why anybody goes to the gym.
To sum up: Central everything
Even if New York’s center-of-the-universe feeling is delusional, it’s a delusion worth living in.
Bankers, writers, filmmakers, artists, developers, New York seems to feel like it’s the home to everything and everybody.
And if you’re one of these people, it’s a motivating and rewarding factor just to know that you’re in a place of opportunity. That can give you immense peace of mind, and let you worry about doing the best with whatever it is that you do.
You’re not looking to go places. You’ve already come to the place.
Now make it happen.
"My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."
- Clarence B. Kelland
I owe any curiosity, integrity, perseverance, patience, honesty, and positivity I possess to watching my dad live.
Happy father’s day, dad!