I Do Good in This Neighborhood
I showed up to the Coney Island Workshop for Teens ready to lead writing workshops, but instead the program’s courageous and talented teens ended up inspiring me with their leadership. I had wished to be assigned to rehab patients, prisoners, hard-skinned warriors with axes to grind. Instead I got Coney. I wasn’t disappointed, just confused. TEENS? I wanted people who had stories beyond my wildest fantasies. Crazy tales of longing and violence, destruction and regret. Apparently, I forgot what being a teen is all about. What being a person is all about – exploration; truth; and claiming one’s own voice. From break-ups to petty theft, real life blooms in these teenagers' phrases. The work I’ve seen here inspires me to follow their lead, write fiercely, share truly, and refuse to be ashamed of being human, of knowing heartbreak, rejection or, the most vulnerable emotion, hope. Every week I get a dose of that last concept: hope. Not just in these singular, outstanding kids who choose every week to put down the iPhones and write, but hope in what we’re here for: authentic and empowering human expression. The right to feel. To share. To grow. I showed up in Coney Island ready to lead – and I keep showing up, honored to follow.
Why own our piece of the human experience? Why open our eyes to see other eyes – gorgeous, curious, and overwhelmed – just like ours looking back? Why exponentially increase the impact of a moment by becoming a part of another person's existence? We are put on this planet regardless of what we'll do here; why not make the time really count? Volunteering, giving to others, is what gives our time meaning.