Hey everyone, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you if that’s OK.
Sometimes I feel like my mind works in ways I don’t entirely comprehend. Candidly, it’s often a complete mystery, and the more I try to figure it out – because it’s in my nature to try – the more it makes my brain hurt. Of course, I’m smart enough to know the brain doesn’t actually have pain receptors, but it is the tool we use to interpret the world and to detect pain, so not fully understanding how I’m processing information can cause distress and send me into a sudden tailspin.
I’m thirty-two, but I don’t behave, think, or function like most people my age. Most of them seem to focus on going out, hanging with their friends, partying at fancy clubs, and staying as far as possible from anything political.
I, on the other hand, think about settling down and ending the nomadic chapter of my life. I think about finding a house, focusing on my personal growth, and starting a family, whether alone or with a partner.
I also think often about things that will make a critical difference for our collective futures, things like infrastructure, housing, taxes, affordability, fairness, opportunity, equality, and diversity. I could literally go on for hours!
Those are the concerns that I want to explore through my podcast, but my work so far has gone largely unnoticed. It would absolutely gut me to put in an immense amount of work for little to no return, so I’m starting small and building all the time, hoping to demonstrate to everyone the true potential I hold. I can’t unleash it alone, however. It takes a village, remember?
But let’s step back to my earlier observation that I feel like an outlier compared to most thirty-somethings. When I go to YouTube, I like to watch content about infrastructure projects, about high-speed and expanded railway lines, about new civil aircraft, about modernized subway systems and how America – a country that prides itself in being the greatest and most advanced country in the world – has allowed itself to fall behind…so far behind that it will take a complete and radical transformation of both our thinking and our political will to bring us up to parity with other advanced countries.
For example, as iconic and historic as the Chicago L is, I can’t help but think just how outdated and grey it now looks after all these years. While it would be disruptive to tear it out and replace it, we have the technology to relocate the tracks underground and use the current above-ground rights-of-way for open space and parks, bringing urban open spaces and even forests back to the concrete monster that is the city of Chicago.
There’s also a desperate need for affordable housing, affordable childcare, and a broad array of infrastructure projects that would make cities healthier, saner, and more environmentally friendly.
If you think about it, the country needs a top to bottom transformation, one that removes automobiles from the center of planning and focuses on human factors.
Once upon a time, American cities looked more beautiful and had distinct personalities. Now they feel bland and cold and gray, an utterly sad sight that makes anyone depressed feel even more despondent. Making cities walkable, building public transportation systems that get people out of their cars, and transforming space wasted for parking into affordable housing and greenspace would not only help the environment, it would improve mental health.
I chose to come to the U.S. and I love this place. But because I love it so much it hurts even more that we’re not being kind to it and we’re not being kind to each other.
There are a lot of things worth fighting for. In the end, the quality of a good advocate – and I aspire to be a good advocate – is consistency and focus on the message. The more I practice, the easier it will get. I am a healer at heart, and to heal I need to understand…and to understand I need to be able to communicate effectively. I will take the liberty to pat myself on the back, because while I’m certainly not perfect, I think I’m doing a pretty darn good job given the fact that English is my third language.
Pat moment over…back to moderate self-loathing. (I’m not being overly dramatic…it used to be far worse. I’ll take my “wins” as they come.)
As I was reading what I just wrote I was starting to lose myself – and perhaps you, my audience – so I’ll do my best to wrap this up with a neat and beautiful bow.
We live in an age where things no longer stay hidden. Good or bad, we can see what’s happening if we choose to. If we opt to become more aware and more inquisitive, we begin to understand that it takes unity to push back against those who look to make us poorer and more selfish. Why? Because as long as we’re kept poor and selfish, we’re easy to manipulate and our ability to secure the things that really matter – family, friends, a good job, a living wage, and other things that make life worth living – will move further from our grasp.
There are, of course, success stories. Let’s learn from them and let’s learn together. I may have some experience and some lessons, most of it from trial and error, and I’d love to pass was I’ve learned along for anyone that needs it. Think of me as open-source software, use me however you want, but remember I am human: I am worthy of respect and I have feelings. I’m not here to cause pain I’m here to lessen it, and as it difficult as it sometimes (most of the times actually) to interact with others, I love helping people and I love helping them change their lives for the better. After all, that helps me too.
I’m gonna end that one there.
One last thing before I say my good night: please consider leaving your thoughts below. It would be immensely helpful for my confidence and overall well-being…but remember you don’t have to, I swear. Eventually, I will learn to live without an inherent need for validation. Over time, the more you learn more about my childhood, the more this will make sense. For all of those who will – I thank you. You’re saving my life.
Yours always, Gabe.