Manhattan. Late morning. I have known this gentleman ever since I moved into my photo studio 13 years ago. He hangs around the building and finds a place in the basement to sleep, the fire hydrant is his couch, and his entertainment comes from the people walking on the street. He makes his money by doing odd jobs for the different businesses in the building. For the odd jobs he does for me, I pay him by buying him food. He is one of the happiest go lucky, honest men I know. 

A few years ago, we had a robbery at my studio. Thieves got into the building during the day and hid. Then at 3 am, they broke into my studio, took all the equipment out along with all the computers, piled them up on the street to be loaded and driven off. This gentleman called the cops on time, they showed up, and all the equipment was brought back inside. If not for him calling the cops, I would have lost all my equipment. When I asked him what should his reward consist of, he answered, “I don’t need anything.” When I insisted on buying him food for the month and some clothes, he refused to say he did what anyone would do. Living on the streets of NYC is not easy, especially if you don’t have a job and have an addiction to alcohol. 

He looks emotional in this image because I was speaking with him about his family. I have always asked him why is he happy all the time? And he has answered, “I am happy because I want to.” 

The lesson I learned from him is that you can choose how you want to feel. “Happiness is a choice.”