Grass – Sidewalk – Grass; Nothing But Window Dressing

Grass, sidewalk, grass – Growing up, my buddy, Steve Szymanski, and I always talked about the type of neighborhood we wanted to live in when we got older, when we “made it”. We both grew up in East Boston, and the notion of grass, sidewalk, grass meant that you were successful; that you “made it”. The flaw with this concept is that grass, sidewalk, grass is nice, but there are so many other symbols that signify monetary success. There are long, paver driveways, ones with gates, heated driveways that you do not have to plow. Wait, better still, there are no driveways, no grass, just big-ass apartments at the Four Seasons Hotel.

The fact of the matter is that none of this crap really matters. None of it comes close to signifying success. It’s all window dressing and has no purpose or meaning. What truly matters is happiness. Grass, driveways, or lavish three thousand square foot apartments do not equal happiness. They represent success and achievement, but at the end of the day they are window dressing in your life. The real success is having balance in your life and spending time with the ones you love: your kids, family, friends ~ people who make you smile and laugh.

There are a lot of people out there with “McMansions”. There are a lot of people who have possessions beyond your wildest imagination. There are many people out there who fly in private jets. Some of these people may be happy, but it’s not the possessions that cause the feeling ~ it’s the people they enjoy those things with that make the difference. By the way, if you have the right people, it doesn’t matter if you are styling in the Hamptons or jumping through open fire hydrants in the “new Nantucket” ~ East Boston. What matters is whom you are with and how you are enjoying each other’s company.

Sure, there are spectacular opportunities, events and occasions that can bring a smile to your face. I have actually experienced a bunch of these. Like Elton John playing piano less then ten yards away from me, kissing a Super Bowl trophy after my team won it all, multiple Super Bowls, World Series, Kentucky Derby’s, Daytona 500’s, on-field, backstage, on stage, shaking hands with Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, Tom Brady, Justin Timberlake, attending the Tony’s, the Grammy’s, the White House, the Playboy Mansion and a myriad of “Bucket List” moments. All fun, all exceptional – all mean nothing if not with the right people. I am fortunate, most of those times I was with my best pal, Patricia (who is also my wife). But, could these moments have been even better if all my pals and family and kids were with me? ~ Hell yeah! Ummm, except the Playboy Mansion, that’s a great one to leave the kids at home – just sayin’.

All of these moments have the perception of happiness, but true happiness comes at Castle Hill in Newport, RI on a Sunday with Patricia, all my friends and the kids running around on the grass; or at Disney World on our 15th Anniversary with most everyone who mattered in our lives all together at the Boardwalk pool laughing hysterically; and every weekend at the lake with friends, family and all the kids swimming, boating and just loving every minute of the summer; the birth of a newborn baby ~ hi Ella!  Glitz and glamour definitely pale in comparison to real moments with the right people in your life. The magnitude of the event does not equate to the extent of the happiness; it’s the people you share it with that truly count. Sure, is there lightening in a bottle when the perfect event and the right people all merge together?  Absolutely. I have been fortunate to experience that a number of times, including just recently with Patricia and the kids at game six of the Stanley Cup Finals, when the Bruins totally dominated and the Garden was louder than anyone could imagine.

When it all comes together it’s a wonderful experience. However, it is not solely about the experience, it’s about the people you are sharing it with. Don’t get caught up in the hype. If you want to find true happiness, be real and do not chase the stars or the events they attend.  Grass, sidewalk, grass is an illusion; happiness comes during good times with people you love. Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors ~ stick close to the heart and enjoy life and your loved ones to the fullest.


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  1. Bob Abruzzese says:

    Lou, you hit the nail on the head…AGAIN! My sons were talking about one of their friends the other day. The boy was having a party and the boys were telling us how ‘rich’ his dad was. They said that he had a beautiful house and lavish items. But the last thing they said really emphasized at what cost. They said he is on the road so often, that he only spends about 2 days a month with his son. So I bet he is very successful, but can he be truly happy spending so little time with his family?

    1. Lou Imbriano says:


      I love being able to give my kids more than we had growing up, but at times I wish they experienced what we did while growing up in East Boston. We didn’t have much, but all I can remember is love and happiness.

      Hope all is well down south. My best,

  2. Illustrates so very well that ‘Stratospheric Success’ as is so skillfully defined in Bob Burg and John David Mann’s “Go-Giver” has nothing to do with money but rather our ability to define success as we determine. Well done Lou.

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Thank you Bill. I am a huge fan of The Go-Giver. It’s a great book that everyone should read. I am honored that you compared my post to it. Thank you.

  3. Susan Young says:

    You are a smart man, Lou. This is a wonderful post and reminder for all of us. Thank you!

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi Susan,

      Thank you for the kind words and for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      My best,

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