Love Letter to New York City: A New Beginning: Ivan’s First Day in New York City


A New Beginning: Ivan's First Day in New York City

It was his very first day in New York City.

His name is Ivan and he came into town with a dear friend of mine (hello again Fred Rooney!) who wanted us to meet.

I was rushing out of my apartment to meet them in Chelsea and had a thought the second before closing the door behind me. I will bring my camera and my gimbal, just in case I want to take a few nice shots of Ivan and Fred.

We sat down for coffee and Ivan started to share his story with me.

He is a medical doctor from Cuba. He, like millions of others, decided to take a big chance on a new life here in the United States. The more he talked, the more it became obvious to me. I wanted to document his first day. I wanted to create a short film about this soul and his searching, the man and his mission, this day and all it represents, not just for this moment, but for a future reference. This moment felt, momentous. It felt important. It felt sacred.

The most rewarding part of my work are the lessons I learn from the people I feature. There is an elegant give and take between the shooting of a film, the capturing of a moment, the written word of a love letter. I am investing time, energy and skills into creating something beautiful in the hopes of honoring that person and their process. I want them to feel and see that their life matters, their efforts and seen, and their bravery validated. They, in turn, are trusting me with their story, sharing insights and sentiments, and giving a piece of their heart and soul to art, its expression, and its creation. They are taking a chance on the unknown, and placing that surrendering in my hands. I take this honor seriously. They matter to me.

” Like millions of other people from around the workd, Ivan moved to the United States to begin a new life. Today was his first day in New York City.”

As with most timeless treasures, coffee turned into more than a latte. Ivan, Fred, and I spent the next 10 hours together. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun set over the city skyline. We cruised across the Hudson River on the Staten Island ferry. We saluted the Statute of Liberty. We sat in Washington Square Park feasting on falafel. We walked, and walked, and walked. We talked, shared laughs and insights, moments of silence and converatisons that change you.

And then, somewhere in the middle of a 10-hour day, it happened. That moment, that minute among hours where something is said that feels so true to the person saying it that you can’t help but feel it as you listen. Their spoken truth penetrates your attentive ear and tells you….listen up, this is where you really need to listen up. Your absolute presence is needed here, right now.

We were just passing in front of the Statute of Liberty. I was filming Ivan, Fred silently supporting over my right shoulder. The sun shined soft onto the shadows of Ivan’s freshly shaven face, his eyes, part hopeful, part uncerain, slightly tearing from admitted nostalgia, the motor of the boat buzzing subtly and then the message so loud and clear.

Be Yourself.

This is my motto, my premise, my flag, he told me.

Be Yourself.

He was so clear. He was strong in his language, his conviction unyielding. The kind of conversation that gives me courage.

I wondered what that looks like for Ivan.

What it feels like to be living as yourself, as himself.

Is it being a doctor? A Cuban? A recent immigrant? A son? An explorer? A friend?

I almost asked him that question, but then I realized something.

He doesn’t need to answer that, and I don’t need to know.

Because whatever that is for him, is his.

It’s his motto.

His premise.

His flag.

And whatever that is for you, is yours to embrace as it guides you on a path to…

“Be Yourself.”

Ivan shares his message and motivation after seeing the Statute of Liberty for the first time. 

Thanks For Reading! 

This letter is a part of Brian Rashid’s “Love Letters to the World,” a global initiative bringing stories of hope, humanity, and travel/tourism to our world.

A huge thanks to Bradley Tusk, the sponsor of this series called, “Love Letters to New York City.” Bradley is owner of Tusk ventures and Founder of P&T Knitwear.

You can read their story, here.

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Thank you so much for being here on what is literally my dream coming true.

Oh so true!

With Love,

Brian Rashid

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