I’ve been home for a few days and away from the walking world of New York City. My commutes thus far have been 30 minutes to my grandparent’s house for a Thanksgiving feast that left me asleep on the couch by 6. (Eating begins at two o’clock and runs straight through until dinner, which begins promptly at four-thirty). The other commute was a drive of a little over an hour to visit my friend’s new house.
After both of these drives I can’t help but reflect on how not present I as during either of them. The car is moving you. You make minor adjustments – pressing a peddel an inch closer to the ground or letting it come an inch up or moving a hydraulicly assisted wheel to the right or left – but really it’s the car doing all the work. Not so when you have to walk through New York every morning and night in the now cold and windy weather. With walking you feel every step. You hear your breathing change. You know one second to the next how you feel.
When I was driving I swear there were entire miles when I was zoned out. And I now realize why people stay in New York their entire lives. Because it’s there that they feel something. Whether it’s good or bad. Even with the sting of walking a half an hour on a twenty-degree morning. Smelling the dog urine that covers one block or the aromatic flower shop on the next corner. Seeing a homeless man wrapped in blankets or a movie star, kids playing the the park or a super hot movie star (yes, I have walked past Uma Thurman and Debra Messing). Good or bad, you know you’re alive. You’re not a drifter, being carried along a highway.
No matter how fast that car can take you, the feeling is never as permeating as the thoughtful steps you take from one block to another.
Just a thought.