“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everyone in New York is in such a hurry to get where they’re going but paying little to no attention to where they are. I’ll cross the street when it’s clear and people waiting across from me will start walking too, not realizing that a Mack truck is now speeding towards them. Or in a throng of people someone will stop dead in their tracks and force everyone around them to change course. Like salmon traversing obstacles in a river. I’m sure part of it is due to the billion tourists but it seems to me that a very small percentage of people are aware of their surroundings at any moment on the street. Maybe it’s different for me because I don’t have a job to think about, worry about, bitch about. Maybe this is just what humans have become. So wrapped up in their epic ego-centric dramas that they can’t even look left for the mack truck.
And eye contact is another story entirely.
On the rare occasion that you actually make eye contact with another person on the street, it is so uncommon that it feels like an invasion of privacy. “I’m walking here, busy with my whole brain full of my whole world full of personal drama. Who are you to try and connect? To look me in the eye like you know me?” Quick get the phone out or quick look away. Look left, there might be a truck coming.
The poodle with the safety-cone-collar, and a purple bow pooping in the park. A little self conscious. Lifting it’s feet up higher than necessary.
The mumbling hobo in the corner, a string of drool dripping from his mouth.
The neon BAR sign, the R flickering a secret message in Morse code.
The all black New Yorker ensembles, where one red line on a Burberry clutch stands out.
The bag lady practically swimming through the crowd.
The bald guy in a suit. Sprinting through the park in his polished shoes. Talk about a rat race.
The psychedelic rainbow warrior meditating on a bench. (benchitating?)
Wandering through Grand Central, taking pictures, the song “Bittersweet Symphony” comes on. There’s a dark note to New York. Beautiful, full of art, music and endless inspiration but disconnected, blind, totally run by getting on the up and up. I love it, but even the trees seem a little worn out and sad. A heavy layer of schmutz climbing up every one. It is a bittersweet symphony, but you don’t want to look away.
Hopped on a train, got off when it felt right, found a park to sit in and right next to me a Med Mob (meditation flash mob) sits down. About 15 people sitting in meditation at five pm in Downtown Manhattan. Everyone is staring and taking pictures as they walk by in a hurry but these 15 people seem to me to be the only ones getting somewhere. So I sit and close my eyes with them and the honking and sirens and clicking heels fades and my breath comes into focus. Right place, right time, as always.