Dear PoP – Help Me See The Beautiful Life Again

Life is beatiful, originally uploaded by whatabiggame.


“Dear PoP,

I live on the southwest corner of Harvard and 14th and, like the couple of shootings and the one stabbing I have read about at my corner over the last two years, this again strikes too close to home for me. You seem to have kept a remarkably cool head about this whole thing. I get mad and upset just thinking about the “what-ifs” of these situations, but it actually happened to you and in just one day’s time you are able to think clearly about it and are trying to bring a sense of calm to all of your regular commenters.

This has thoroughly bummed me out today. What is your secret? How are you able to keep your perspective in tact so soon after the fact? Did you just continue to Commonwealth and then drown the memory away with pint after pint (I might have)?

Help me see the beautiful life again.”

Getting hit by a rock is most definitely an unpleasant experience. But I try to keep things in perspective. Fortunately, the throw was weak and I was not injured. I was absolutely pissed off and fuming for about 20 minutes. For the record, I only had one glass of Bushmills after the fact.

I try and live my life by a certain philosophy. There is a Hebrew expression that says, Gam Zeh Ya’avor. This basically means – This too shall pass. It’s funny re-reading some of the comments from yesterday. I’m really not a naive person. Nor am I goofy optimist. I’m not saying that I’m going to wake up one morning to a crime free world. But I do think over time and with hard work the situation will improve, in this case in Columbia Heights. I also know that life, while often beautiful, is not perfect. Far from it. This relates to work, personal life, health, you name it. So I thought about getting hit by the rock. I recognized that, thankfully, I wasn’t injured and I realized the “good” people that I encounter far outnumber the “bad”.

Also I try and remember the things I love about living in the city. And I also think about the many folks out there, volunteering and working to improve the situation in the city. Another reader wrote me (more to come on that Friday) suggesting that 50% of people want to embrace the beautiful life and see what they can do to make it better while the other 50% (not necessarily through any fault) have decided the situation will never improve. Well, I’d like to think I fall in the former.

And you know, I listened to some good music, had an interesting interview with a British journalist, ate a good dinner and admired the homes of Columbia Heights after dinner. As I’ve said many times, some days are better than others. I’m not saying you should ignore the negative aspects. It’s ok to get angry. Hopefully that anger can be channeled to do some positive things. I know I was fucking pissed. But it all depends on what you decide to focus on. An example I’ve given before is when you see some trash on the street near some flowers. You can focus on the trash and get really pissed off. Or you can look at the garden and say, those are some beautiful fucking flowers. Ideally, you’ll pick up the trash while admiring the flowers. Sometimes I pick up the trash and sometimes I don’t. But whenever I walk away the thought I always to chose to keep is that those are some beautiful fucking flowers.

If you focus on the unpleasant aspect, sure you’ll probably want to move. I chose to focus on the happier times. And I know that there are going to be some shitty days in the future and I know there are going to be some awesome days in the future. It is the decision to focus on the positive aspects of living where we live that will help you capture the beautiful life. And remember whatever happens – This too shall pass.

17 Comment

  • Viva la beautiful Life!! Life IS beautiful. You just need to be happy and give those around you an extra reason to be too. I love PoP because it embraces the beautiful life. Some commenters, not so much, but I understand how life can get you down sometimes, especially in this especially tough time. We are much luckier in many ways than those in previous generations, as my parents often remind me.

  • At the risk of being accused of being pedantic, I’ve got to point out that the expression is “Gam Zeh Ya’avor.”


    גם זה יעבור

  • Alcohol.

  • Sorry if this totally rocks your world, but the expression ends with ya’avor – 3rd person future tense. There’s no z- prefix anywhere.

  • Life is nasty, brutish, and short. I suggest focusing on the good aspects while you can, because there’s always something to be bummed about. Find that special someone to help you enjoy the beautiful life. Make every day a celebration of your love! Surprise her with a pasta salad! Tie a minature beret to your wang!

  • Dude,

    You’re totally going to Heaven.


  • I hope nobody moves to Petworth or any other neighborhood without a clear understanding about what life on the urban edge is like, a strong stubborn streak and a proper “fuck you” attitude about some of the people you’re going to stumble across. It’s “us” against “them” (and “us” isn’t just us new folks, it’s most people in the neighborhoods) and you have to have a kind of arrogant determination that they aren’t going to drive you out. I make the choices, they don’t chose for me. And yes, it can be grim. But you have to get up in the morning and get back on the horse, or just get out of town. Otherwise the punks and the felons are telling you how to live your life rather than you making your own choices, and that’s not right.

    It’s hard, but it’s exhilerating — and, in the long run, your effort changes things for the better.

  • PoP,

    Like a commenter from yesterday, I sometimes get caught up with the many smaller indignities of living here (e.g., thrown rocks, tossed garbage, threatening teens, stink eyes from strangers, no dog parks, car break-ins, human poop in my alley), but things could be worse, and often things are really, really good.

    Your input above is something I know, but something I need to remind myself of more often. Please keep up the good work.

    PS: Big Ups to “Sully” from yesterday — I am totally giving the Voodoo Finger to the next kid who chucks a rock at me while I bike by the apartments on 7th & S (or any other worthy candidate).

  • PPS: Now I’ve got Ween’s “Voodoo Lady” stuck in my head, which is a beautiful thing.

  • We’ve lived in Petworth since before some of you were born. Okay, my kids think I’m a geezer but really I’m not. But if I ever had any of the terrible experiences that some here have recounted, we’d have seriously considered moving out. Either we’ve been lucky, our block is really quiet and nice or I just drive a lot, minimizing foot traffic. About the Hebrew expression, I had a fairly normal American Jewish upbringing, the holidays, all the food, the Yiddish speaking grandparents (please don’t anyone correct the spelling: these words are not English and are from memory, kinahhorah, shayna medeleh, it’s a shanda…)But I never heard that Hebrew expression. PoP, did you learn it in Israel, because I never heard it and thanks for teaching me something new.

  • Gasp. Imagine the dismay of the acutal ghetto denizens who were born into this as opposed to making a choice to live in the squalor.

  • Believe me, whatever squalor JoJo is referring to above, I don’t live in any of it.

  • Chloe, driving makes a huge difference. My chums and I chatted about this once, I was the angry DC resident who took the bus and walked every day. They thought DC was cosmo and fun as they drove everywhere. Also, once I griped to Bowser about the incessant crap at Missouri and Georgia, she replied “I drive by there a lot and have never noticed.” This confirmed it to me, she sits in her taxpayer funded SUV and is at that intersection for a couple minutes at most, listening to soft music in climate controlled comfort. I wait out there in sweltering heat or freezing cold dodging comments from angry racists and violent thugs. Interestingly, once I identified the bus ride and subsequent walk around that area as the culprit, it helped my mood immensely.

  • Going along the lines of Irving Streete – you are either a puppet or a puppetmaster. Meaning, don’t let others (felons, bad guys, hoodlums) dictate how you will live your life. Be the puppetmaster of your own destiny. This all from an amazing athletic trainer that I read about several months ago.

  • I live on Columbia Rd and Ontario, and as I was walking into my building last night, a police officer was leaving the store next door. He had been taking a report of a crime, or something, and looked at me, and said, “Whoa! People actually live here?? I would NEVER live here.” I laughed and kept walking.

  • superdude Says:

    March 26th, 2009 at 11:21 am
    I live on Columbia Rd and Ontario, and as I was walking into my building last night, a police officer was leaving the store next door. He had been taking a report of a crime, or something, and looked at me, and said, “Whoa! People actually live here?? I would NEVER live here.” I laughed and kept walking.
    SO a police officer tasked to protect and serve an area states that he wouldn’t live there, presumably due to lack of safety. Yet, the council would rather us be unarmed and at the mercy of a call to police who don’t even see our neighborhood as worthy of living?

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