Larry Lee photo

Larry Lee photo

As I step out of my Chinatown apartment onto Race Street I find an energy that can only be described as Friday afternoon in Philadelphia. Cars line the streets and people fill the sidewalks. I decided to take a walk to clear my head. I’m at a crossroads in my life and have been having a hard time breathing lately. I turn to stroll down 11th Street and grab a giant fountain soda and a massive snicker doodle from Wawa, some junk food eating to calm my nerves. Sipping on my enormous Dr. Pepper and listening to the rap music pouring out of my headphones, I take a right down Arch Street, with no clear destination in mind.

With the upbeat music pumping through my ears I feel my confidence building and I feel more at ease. Through the lens of my sunglasses on this beautiful spring day, I see the happy smiling faces of tourists visiting the city and the even happier people getting out of work for the weekend. There is so much diversity here, people of every race, religion, and color happily walking along together. A few little kids in matching blue T-Shirts pass by me, skipping along with their chaperones, heading towards the Liberty Bell. I spot a shady alcove overlooking Independence Hall, a perfect place to consume my abnormally sized cookie. I take a seat under a tree and enjoy the soft sugary goodness of my snicker doodle. A light breeze glides leaves in every direction around me. Gorgeous days like today momentarily make you forget about your troubles.They make you think that everything may turn out okay.

Looking upon the lawn of the Independence Visitor’s Center, two young boys are having a catch with a rubber ball, their faces lit up with pure joy.That’s a feeling I miss, it has been far too long since I let myself relax and enjoy life as much as these kids are right now. I feel the overwhelming desire to urge these kids to stay that way forever. Not that I don’t want them to grow up, but I want them to never lose sight of who they are and what’s important. You are your true self when you are young. No tampering yet from peer pressure, nothing to regret, except maybe missing the school bus in the morning, at worst. I feel the need to preach to them that the only way to stay happy is to follow what you are interested in at heart and surround yourself with people that inspire you. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes that I have; I guess this is my maternal instinct kicking in.

A group of older kids pass, laughing uncontrollably. I hope they never lose that sense of humor, even if it may be at my expense, as they may have spotted me sitting in this corner writing on a napkin.I hope they stay that way forever. I’ve come to realize recently that you must be honest with yourself and listen to your heart, or you’ll never be happy. I’ve spent too much time in my life worrying what others think of me. This huge burden I bear has held me back considerably; I was looking at life the wrong way.

Across the road in front of the Constitution Center children are loading into a big yellow school bus. I wonder where they are headed and where life will take them. They are lucky to be in a place full of opportunity. Philadelphia is a center for culture that fuels artists and creativity. Next week I get to see one of the greatest comedians of all time perform, Bill Cosby, who grew up right here in Philly. I wonder where the creativity stems from; maybe it’s the cheesesteaks or the soft pretzels?Maybe it’s because William Penn is watching, glaring down from atop City Hall.

I am so glad that I decided to venture out on this walk today, taking in my surroundings and doing some self-reflection has helped to calm me down. It opens your eyes, when you take a moment to step back and subjectively look at your life. Not too long ago I was one of those little kids running around with pure joy trying to make my classmates laugh. I no longer want to feel sorry for myself; I realize that I have my whole life ahead of me, just like these children. I can achieve that happiness again by taking advantage of every moment. You must go after what you want and act fast because life is too short and you only get one. As I breathe in deep and look around this beautiful city, I am inspired. Now excuse me, I have some dreams to accomplish.