New York City: The Big Apple, The Capital of the World, The Empire City…
Surely NYC is one of the best cities in the world, with endless possibilities just outside your door. It’s the mecca of opportunity, right? There’s something about its vibration that just makes you feel like you can conquer anything – at least until you narrowly avoid being hit by a manic cab driver or until you get a proper cursing for stepping in the way of the very-important business man on his way to his even more important business meeting.
I’m not here to put down a city that admittedly I love to visit. In fact, I just returned from a fantastic long weekend in the city seeing one of my best friends who is currently living there. We walked, we dined, we shopped, we “showed” (i.e. saw a Broadway show)…generally took in all that New York has to offer and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And did I mention the food…? (Head over to my restaurant reviews page to see where I ate!)
But I can’t ignore a feeling that I have often experienced and which was reinforced through my conversations with other young singles living in the city. There are so many people to meet, places to go, and stimuli simultaneously entertaining your senses, yet the irony is how easy it is to feel alone. New York has a culture of opulence and abundance. Either you have it (insert desired object, job, or person here), or you are aspiring to attain it. From the fashion (model and actress sightings are constant) to the social life (restaurants book out months in advance), the message is clear: see and be seen. Even exercising is trendy. I attended my first Soul Cycle spin class, in which I felt like I was joining an exclusive club of young, attractive perfectionists validating themselves by their over-priced work out regime. I’m a sucker for an intense workout, which it is, and overall I enjoyed the music and energy of the instructor, but instead of enriching my soul (as one might expect from the name), I left $35 less “rich” and feeling a bit gypped by the studio’s nickel and diming on everything from shoes to water.
The extremes and dichotomy of messages is blatantly obvious simply by walking down the street; every other door is a restaurant or boutique eatery offering tantalizing treats for every taste. I was practically mopping up my own drool over the abundance of gelato, cupcakes, pastries, pretzels, fro-yo, food trucks (I could go on…) enticing me on every street corner. The prevailing thought running through my head was “I WANT (fill in the blank here).” And that didn’t just go for the food, by the way. The clothes, bags, shoes and jewelry all sat temptingly in the storefront windows just begging for a new home in my closet. I guess the message is eat all you want and you will still fit into our model-size clothes and don’t worry we take credit cards.
So what’s wrong with this picture? First of all I should reiterate that I love to visit this city and I am so blessed to be able to occasionally go and truly live it up. I embrace all that the city offers, but I leave reminded just how important it is to find the inner stillness and peace. Unless you can learn to be an observer, objectively bearing witness to the hussle and bussle and carefully selecting the subjects of your mental and physical investment, loneliness can easily creep up and zap all of your loving energy. Visiting New York reminds me that I can’t give into the temptation of having it all. Really, I need to be it all and be enough – and the rest is just noise (often in the form of a taxi driver honking and yelling to get the F*** out of the way!).