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 a very-important business man on his way to his even more important meeting.
I’m certainly not out to criticize a city that I admittedly love to visit. In fact, I just returned from a fantastic long weekend with one of my best friends who is currently living in vibrant downtown NYC. We walked, dined, shopped, and even caught a Broadway show. We were living the dream. But I can’t ignore a feeling that I have often experienced, which was reinforced through my conversations with other young professionals 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 constant model and actress sightings to the restaurants that 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 and I felt like I was joining an exclusive club of young, attractive perfectionists validating themselves by their over-priced workout regime. I’m always game for some intense group fitness, but instead of enriching my soul as one might expect from the name, I felt like the sucker dropping $35 on the 45-minute class, let alone the added cost of shoes and water.
The extremes and dichotomy in the 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 overwhelmed by 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 it all.” And that feeling extended beyond the food; the clothes, bags, shoes and jewelry all sat temptingly in the storefront windows just begging for a new home in my closet. If money were no object and I actually indulged in all those delicacies, I would have to buy a new wardrobe every season just to fit my expanding wasteline.
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 New York offers, but if I’m being honest, I leave reminded just how important it is to find inner stillness and peace. Unless you can learn to be an observer, objectively bearing witness to the hustle and bustle without getting swept up into it, loneliness can easily zap all of your loving energy and desire for exploration. 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!).