A Day in the Life of a Movement

On Tuesday night I attended a launch party for a new Discovery network called Velocity geared to upscale men and promising to deliver “high-octane programming.” Snazzy cars, cigars, whiskey, poker. You could almost smell the leather.

The following day I was in Lower Manhattan, watching in amusement a double-decker tour bus stopped at the corner of Liberty Street and Broadway. The people on the top deck started snapping pictures of the folks gathered for the Occupy Wall Street protest.

They were gawking and smiling and pointing, as tourists are wont to do. In response, some of the people walking in organized fashion toward Foley Square held their signs a little higher. They were neatly tucked between barricades that were lined with police officers, diligent but easygoing in their duties.

I chuckled at the sight and then, after the bus drove off, I began to marvel at where I was standing. So much has transpired near this spot. Heroism. Tragedy. Celebration. Activism. A sparkling Freedom Tower makes its way into the sky on one side. Just the day before, a helicopter carrying tourists trying to get an aerial view of this great city crashed in the East River.

It was a reminder that this packed island is an epicenter like no other. Where enemies set their sights, where ideas are launched, where movements are hatched. And somehow it handles the sharp contrasts, the grit and shine coexisting and becoming part of its vibrancy. One day it’s Velocity’s message of “fast, fast, fast” and the next it’s this slow growing buzz seeping all over its downtown streets and squares.

Viewed through a life coach lens, what a terrific scene set for any and all, determination and aspiration.

I saw citizens of different ages, political affiliations and races, some walking and holding signs – the most memorable being “Ignore Me, Go Shopping” – and others sitting in meditation. Some were gathered in conversation. One woman got in an officer’s face with her sign and he quietly stepped away and resumed his duties.

It made me aware of what I tell clients all the time – do something. Put your passion behind a cause, a job, an art form that you find meaningful. Action enriches life.

Standing near a table off to the side of the activity was a couple that exemplified this. Tyler Combelic and Margaret Graham, ages 27 and 24, respectively, are both volunteers who have become press relations work group members for Occupy Wall Street.

“It’s a call to action for people to get invested in their government again,” said Combelic, a self-employed web designer who is participating in Occupy Wall Street by day and doing his paid work at night. “This is the first protest movement I’ve been invested in in my life.”

Dressed in a suit and tie, he explained that he had first found out about it via Facebook and decided to come check it out for himself.

“I wanted to see if it was interesting or a flash in the pan movement,” he said. “I was inspired.”

Graham saw his inspiration and it sparked her to get involved as well. A student at the School of Visual Arts and an employee of the New York Public Library in Bryant Park, she called herself less politically inclined than Combelic. She was attracted to the movement once she came because she saw it “wasn’t one political group or party or one race or creed” that was involved.

“To my mind, my generation has always seemed inactive,” Graham said. “We talk about things, but we’re not active. A lot of people in my program at school are involved here and that excites me. I’m seeing our generation come together in a different way.”

In a newspaper that was handed out at the protest – called The Occupied Wall Street Journal – Arun Gupta writes: “They represent a generation of Americans who are told to believe in a system that only offers them ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and pepper spray to the face.”

It was pepper spray incidents and arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge that made the news and started to bring more attention to Occupy Wall Street. Combelic explained that the difference between the movement at night and during the day is well, like night and day. The vibrant daylight tone gives way to an element that is willing to spend the night for the cause.

Going three weeks strong and now spawning events all over the country, I wondered if he saw an end in sight.

“I don’t think so,” Combelic said. “I think that’s a smart approach. The goals of the movement are unspecified. They’re not ones that have an expiration date.”

But what if you had to capture it in a concise way?

“The American dream is no longer a luxury item,” Combelic said.

There’s always Velocity.

Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.