This year, the day after Thanksgiving, which most folks know as Black Friday, fell on November 23rd. For many people it has become a day of unrelenting shopping. For me, however, it will be known forever more as a day of reflection and purposeful action.
Most of you know that I live in New Jersey. I grew up in Bayonne and now reside about 40 miles to the south in Middletown. My office is in the Town of Red Bank, not far from where I live. Red Bank is a beautiful community appropriately named because it was built on the banks of the Navesink River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Bayonne sits at the foot of New York Harbor, facing Manhattan. Growing up there we took the majestic New York City skyline for granted, though it did inspire dreams and aspirations. New York, specifically Manhattan, loomed large as a destination to be visited, for its entertainment offerings, but more importantly, because of the job opportunities which awaited there.
In the 1990s, I made my way to the Big Apple, as New York City is sometimes referred, and found my calling on Wall Street, where I entered a training program. How 21 years fly.
Anyway, I had worked in the city for years, and visited there on more than a few evenings out with friends. Because of this, I thought I really knew the city that never sleeps. On November 23rd, I came to understand just how much more there was to know than I had imagined.
My friend Jay mentioned how, many years ago, his father had walked the length of the island of Manhattan. He said he wanted to do the same. Upon sharing this with me, I told him I would love to join him. And so, we decided to do this walk the day after Thanksgiving.
We met in front of the Hotel Pennsylvania at 6:00 a.m. A block away sits the famous flagship store of the department store chain Macy’s. A huge building, it takes up a full city block. We walked through the store before taking a subway uptown, to where our walk would begin. Amazingly or predictably, depending on your point of view, the store was not only open but humming with activity. It was, after all, Black Friday.
After a quick restroom stop there, we headed to the subway and made our way uptown to 225th street. Interestingly, the Borough of Manhattan – also known as New York County – occupies more than the island of Manhattan itself. A small community known as Marble Hill sits just across an inlet from the island, hard against the Borough of the Bronx, famous for, among other things, the New York Yankees.
We began our walk on 225th Street and Broadway in Marble Hill, walked across a short bridge and proceeded down the length of the island of Manhattan. We walked down Broadway until we reached Battery Park, not too far from my old office on Wall Street, where we proceeded to the water’s edge and viewed the majesty that is the Statute of Liberty. From end to end The Big Walk, as I now call it, is about 14 miles. The few deviations we took to see some sites probably added another mile or so. The walk took us a bit less than 5 hours.
All I can say is, it was a highlight of my life. Truly, an extraordinary day of both reflection and meaningful action, shared with a dear friend. Though I had been to NYC hundreds or perhaps even thousands of times, I never felt anything like the sense of connectedness to the city and its people that I did on November 23rd.
Most folks in the city were recovering from a Thanksgiving food hangover and or cramming themselves into over packed stores to buy things which they will probably, at some point in time, come to realize they do not need. But I was walking off my own turkey day indiscretions, learning more, first hand, about New York City than I had in years and reflecting on my life, my family and the lives of my clients.
I will share with you some of my thoughts:
- Stepping out of our comfort zones, by doing something different, can be very enriching.
- There is what we think we know and then there is what we know.
- Too many of us, myself foremost, gorge ourselves during Thanksgiving, while forgetting to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with.
- The drumbeat of rampant consumerism continues on Black Friday, when the ingenious advertisements of marketing mavens entices us to get in on sales for things that, in the scheme of it all, do little to improve or enrich our lives. As a nation, we eat too much on Thanksgiving and buy too much on Black Friday. Consume and consume again.
- Happiness, in the largest sense, comes not from what we buy but from the freedom to be able to do what we choose to do.
- Saving money and investing it can work toward providing us with freedom. Stuffing ourselves and buying things we do not need merely drains our personal power and freedom.
- Reflecting on what is important in life can go a long way toward helping us live our dreams. However, while it is important to reflect, it is imperative that we take action.
Take a look at the photos that go along with this blog post. I am sure you will recognize some famous Manhattan landmarks (Oh, I’m in the pictures too.) Enjoy and remember to reflect on what you want to achieve for you and your family and then of course, take action.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy Holidays from my family to yours.
Scott McGimpsey December 15th, 2016
This material was prepared by Scott McGimpsey and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources, however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Neither Summit Brokerage Services Inc. nor Scott McGimpsey is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professionally services. If such assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal, state, or municipal tax penalty. Moreover, a diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or assure protection against loss in a declining market. UNIFIED PLANNING GROUP is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC