Sunday, May 29, 2016

in the month of May

then I understand// I love you with what in me is unfinished. --Robert Bly

Found somewhere between West 4th Street and Bleeker
One of my absolutely favorite things about New York is how obvious it is. It can be very subtle and very nuanced, full of different shades and hues. But sometimes, it is just stark, and unapologetically clear that it is itself.

Moments when New York feels like itself:

The glare of a subway station late at night.

The buzz behind your eyes as you walk through a quiet, warm midtown to the 6 train from Hell's Kitchen.

Central Park at 3pm on a rainy Wednesday afternoon. There is no one there. It is eerily empty and quiet. And I love it. It is fresh, wet, and beautiful. And blissfully empty.

The sound of a saxophone player coming up from underneath an underpass on your run, as tourists flow around him like an ebb and flow of fro-yo-carrying honey bees.

Two young college students singing Seasons of Love underneath the 77th Street Stone Bridge over on the west side, they are harmonizing with each other, the rain, and their umbrellas.

And these are when New York feels like itself,
but they are really moments when I feel like myself.

When I am walking up Park Avenue, when I am walking through the Village, when I am running through the dark and wooded west side of the Park,
when I am walking up the East River, when I am walking through crowded SoHo streets, when I am sitting up late laughing with friends on a rooftop,  I have discovered myself here in these moments.

I have discovered myself here in this city.

A self I had before, but she looked different.
At least exteriorly.

I wonder if she felt different.
Now, she knows the importance of asking kind questions, and smiling--because now she knows how easy it is to forget these common courtesies. And how much better life is when it is kind and beautiful!

Now, she knows that it is important to be firm and generous at the same time. It is vital to be honest, and also unapologetic. It is important to listen to others, and it is important to state your opinion clearly.

It is required to say please and thank you.

And it is best to ask your waiter their name, if they forget to give it to you.

It is important, as Mother Teresa says, to greet everyone with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of peace, or love (or both). But it is also important to protect yourself from cat callers.

We hold these two things in tension, and never let ourselves become complacent.

There is no such person as the "deserving poor" or the undeserving poor, or the deserving rich. There are just people, and we are called to respond to each of them--Donald Trump to the Amputee who begs on your street corner--with the same charity and love.

That sort of love is a powerful equalizer. It is a love that restores dignity, transcends pity, and opens the way to relationship.

I think Pre-New York Self knew a lot of the things that I do now.
And the City gave her ample opportunity to put them into practice.
That's a challenge that is uncomfortable, and most people would rather not rise to it.
And she didn't, for a while, want to accept it.

But it got to her, eventually, the challenge of the City.
And now, she loves it. Which means it's time for the next challenge: leaving it.

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