11.18.2009

New York Moment.

I'll apologize now--as the holidays get closer I get more sentimental. Mostly for the obvious reasons: I see more of the people I love in warm happy settings. I think at some point I went through teenage angst years where you feel like these settings are fake. Like if you have problems in the real world, with yourself or with others, these jovial tables and nourishing (belly and soul) nights are a front. But the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized there is no front. There is just a time and place for love, and for setting aside differences.
Yesterday I sat on the J train home from Brooklyn reading magazines, and I came upon this quote:
“To feel the love of people who we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses—that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things” –Pablo Neruda, from “Childhood and Poetry”
I paused, processed, and thought about it in the most cliché (albeit true) sense of charity and volunteering. I thought about the girls we’re raising money for tonight and the many people that have already taken these 32 on as family and as their life’s work. I put my magazine down and listened to a woman give two foreign girls instructions for switching to the F, then the A trains. I got off the JMZ at the same time, and also transferred to the F. We got on, and suddenly they had missed their transfer (confession is I didn’t think it was necessary). So after W4th I asked them exactly where they were headed. I let them know they had missed the A, but that I was happy to point them in the proper pedestrian direction when I got off at 14th Street. As we talked, another girl seated on our car took her headphones out. “Can you tell me how to get to Union Square?” She asked. I of course said yes, and we all exited at 14th street together. And maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but I felt a little bit like a mother duck leading her ducklings through the streets of New York City. At the top of the stairs I sent one east, two southwest, and the headed to meet a friend. It occurred to me these little interactions, no matter how easy or fleeting, often make us feel loved and looked after by strangers. It shows us a side of humanity that is not based in allegiance or obligation. I’m certainly not trying to paint myself as a martyr, but rather calling out the everyday interaction in their most pure and simple beauty. As you gear up to deal with family—for better or worse , and to spend time with your most cherished friends, remember the goodness that surrounds you every day for no deep seeded reason, and not for any great cause, but just because there is kindness all around us.

1 comment:

  1. I have a little lump in my throat. Well put Miss Lizzy.

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