This is Not A Cliché Article About Autumn in New York
Really, It's Not.
by Jennifer Zahlit
Sometimes you find yourself in a cemetery on a crisp fal Monday morning in Brooklyn. And it's perfect. Barely three months ago, I was in the midst of a semi-life crisis, wandering a downtown LA craft fair when the stars aligned/the universe spoke/God smiled and I made the decision to take the leap and move to New York City.
Fast forward a month and a half and I found myself on the opposite coast, starting a new life. The insanity of it both terrified and exhilerated me.
But I realized I had been given a precious gift that you're only given a few times in your life. I was presented with a unique opportunity to really examine my life and evaluate if I wanted to explore some lifestyle changes. And since I was the girl who taped up my life goals list on my wall in seventh grade, you better believe I had a detailed list written on cute paper all ready to go.
It all came down to "purpose"
I've always been interested in purpose in whatever I'm doing - why am I eating the foods I'm eating, why is pain a part of my life, why am I pursuing acting? These questions and so many others quietly consume me in a stimulating way. But I felt that I had lost the little moments that feed our greater purpose. In LA, I had packed my schedule from morning to evening, and any free time was dedicated to attacking my ever-growing to-do list. I thought I was serving my greater purpose of committing myself to my dream, but I never had any time to breathe, relax, and center myself. Everything was a blur, which seemed counter-productive to the flurishing creative life I hoped to live. I decided that in NYC, the city that never sleeps, I would remind myself to breathe. I would recapture the tiny moments of purpose.
Three separate friends had recommended The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron in the span of a week, so hello Jennifer, you should pay attention. I did, and you should check it out too. The book details a twelve week course in opening yourself up to creativity through weekly tasks, morning pages (three handwritten pages of stream of consciousness thoughts to start your day), and a weekly Artist Date (a block of time you carve out for yourself in a creative environment). AKA: No limits. nJust you and whatever you choose to surround yourself with. I decided to give it a try, figuring I could always use help to override the constant excuses I so generously give myself. I also needed some help on giving myself that little reminder to "breathe". The tasks and morning pages seemed doable, but the notion of carving out time for myself to do something "creative" when I had a leaky faucet to attend to/groceries to buy/submissions to send seemed almost extravagant. Perhaps even bordering on wasting time. I wavered between deciding to do my first Artist Date.
I've always thought that the greatest gift we can give each other is time, but maybe the greatest gift of all is giving time to ourselves.
So I put on my headphones and Nikes and found myself almost pulled to a national landmark a few blocks from my new apartment - The Green-wood Cemetery. With my phone on do not disturb and Spotify on Sufjan Steven's Carrie and Lowell, I began the dreaded time, unsure of what to expect. But then I entered the cemetery and the lists and time disappeared.
The rustic arches at the entryway immediately took me out of the modern world and my heart swelled as I noticed the changing leaves, experiences the first touches of fall in a new city. The forty two degree air gave me a rush. Mostly though, I was struck by the peace I felt from observing the graves and imagining the stores of the souls surrounding me. how could I not be inspired walking by the resting places of people that meant so much to others? I was humbled to spend the morning in such a place.
I was exactly where I needed to be.
Jennifer Zahlit is a recent NYC transplant from Los Angeles. Interested in all things involving life and people, she especially loves theater and music. She also has a knack for having a perfect book recommendation and an amazing new story every time you see her. She'll also be contributing features from the NYC entrerpeneurial community for Happenstance so you should probably get to know her more and check out her website: