The other day I ate dinner on the west balcony of Grand Central Station (with Sydney Wolfe Cohen, more on Sydney another day) – and there beheld below me the subway rush that marks New York City’s workday’s end.
If you blur your eyes, somewhat like the blurry photo taken by the waiter, the people of New York City are a wave, a great tidal flow that shimmers; they move quickly, fluidly, skirting each other with the grace of small fish in a very big pond.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to visit New York City, for no other reason than to swim in the vastness of the human spirit I anticipated awaiting me there.
When the kids were young we had a big poster of Manhattan by night above our yellow laminex kitchen table, a pretty dining suite that cost me 50 bucks and is now worth a small fortune.
Then a year ago, the godforce tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘New York, now!’ I had always thought I would arrive in New York fulfilled – that I would go there to count myself as one among the initiated standing tall in the glory of her own potential.
It hadn’t occurred to me to go before then.
So not one to disobey, I honoured the godforce and booked that New York Now ticket. And then remembered I had a broken foot! That I was still on crutches!
Drat! OMG! I had three weeks to be walking well enough without support. And I was devastatedly disappointed that here I was – finally – going to the World’s Great City and instead of being in the one place on Earth I knew would walk at my natural pace, I flew in with a limp so large I may as well have been on my knees.
For two reasons, that journey – with the limp – was an extraordinary gift.
1. I was immobilised without the help of strangers, getting up and down subway steps with large bags, for example – and so I learned to receive help and experience the helpfulness of a deeply kind world;
2. the only people who move that slowly in our world are the crippled and the elderly. Previously, in my busy lifely waltz, I flowed around them. Now I was one among them. And while I swore that I would never again move as quickly as I once did, of course I do, now my foot is whole again, because that is my natural way. However, what I have never forgotten is that others need my help. And so I have learned to stop. Regardless of how busy I am. And help.
And now, a year to the day later, I have returned. Walking at my natural pace. A small fish in a beautiful pond.
If you blur your eyes, the crowd moves as one, a heaving ocean swell.
This is the rhythm of the city.