April 24, 2013
I was so happy that you asked me to write you a letter for your high school graduation! Even though we are separated by many years, in some ways, we still have the same outlook on life.
What do I mean by that?
Well, let's start by saying that we both love New York. And we both know what that means. It means that we both sense that there is so much more to life than most people around us realize. And that can make us frustrated. It makes us frustrated because we demand the best from ourselves and also the best from those around us. If we're around people who don't bring their A-game, then we start to slack off ourselves. And then we stop trying hard. (Am I right?) And if we stop trying, then we know that we are not living up to our potential. So that is why we both want to be in New York. Because we know that this city will never let us off the hook until we have given life the best we have to give. If our best is still not good enough to make life's A-list, well then, New York will respect us for trying -- and we'll be so much better than those who didn't try. (You know it, girl.)
The next thing we share is that you have dreams that no one gets. You may not even be able to speak them to yourself yet; in fact, I'm sure you can't. At 18, no girl can. Sure, there are a couple of thoughts, sentences, phrases, words that come to your mind. But your dreams are still gelling. You've got dreams and that's awesome because a lot of people never look up from the muck long enough to dream. The other evening I was walking home along Central Park South and the moon was coming up over a skyscraper. I took a picture of the moon. How many thousands of people were around me right then and there at that moment? How many stopped to look up at the moon at dusk? A handful? Five? Ten? Maybe just me? That's what dreams are like. It's you, standing alone, but surrounded by thousands of people, who can't see what you see. It's you wondering what the hell you're looking at; wondering if anyone else sees it too; wondering if you even understand what you're seeing.
To that last point, I can pretty much assure you that you have no freakin' idea what your dreams mean. You're 18 and you're going to spend the next 18 years getting your bearings. But don't be afraid of that. The joys that are going to come -- they are real joys. The hurt that's going to come -- it's going to hurt like hell. The day will come when you will wonder why you were born. And that's when you'll remember the moon. The moon rising over Central Park South. And you'll know. You'll know that moon was meant for you. It was your moon.
So don't give up on your moon. Don't give up on your clear, blue New York sky at dusk. You, and thousands of girls like you, will come to this city, or other cities and towns all across America to start your lives, to follow your dreams, to find your love, to offer the very best that you've got to give. Never, never hold back when it comes to giving life your best. It's all you've got, Ashley. It's all you've got.
I wish you all of the wonderful joys life has to offer.