Dee, Virginia, and I hanging with David on Sunday afternoon at Brooklyn Museum
New York can be a magical city. I’m understanding that better the more I visit — which has been more frequent with both our kids living here and work sometimes bringing me to town.
Saturday in the city was dazzling. The air was clear and dry, the sun bright, the temperature comfortable. All day I watched the parade of humanity—people of all ages, ethnicities, walks of life. We rented Citi Bikes and rode through Central Park — because we haven’t gotten enough time on bikes, you know. The park was full: a women’s 10k had just finished and the usual hordes of Saturday morning cyclists and runners mixed with the women, and we wove in and around all of them.
Earlier, over breakfast at Starbucks (and a steady stream of humanity circling through the coffee shop, too) Dee and I got into a fairly deep conversation that started with travel and life goals and leapt to dying: how we die, fear of dying. You know, light stuff over our yogurt and oatmeal.
The profundity multiplied during a play with Virginia that afternoon. Secret Life of Humans, at the tiny 59E59 theater on the East Side; I highly recommend it. It’s a simple play that asks profound questions as it surveys the history of humanity while telling the story of one man’s life. Where did we all come from? How does our past help us face challenges today? And what is the end game, what is the human species looking to accomplish? That question chills me.
Meanwhile, the news this week of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain both committing suicide has been in the back of my mind. I’ve read opinion pieces trying to explain their deaths. I’m left feeling sad for their pain but it honed my sense that this life is all we have, we should stop sweating the stuff that doesn’t matter and treasuring what does matter.
From the play, I walked alone through Central Park to meet my daughter. I passed a pop-up rink of skate dancers — men and women my age and older dancing on rollerblades to the Talking Heads and other fun music. My first thought was, huh, don’t these 60-somethings feel a little silly dancing in public? My second thought, quick on the heels of my first: good for them. This life is fleeting, our challenges can be enormous, why not embrace life and dance?
I didn't join them, mind you, but I did flash big, encouraging smiles.
I got to visit with my daughter, Kate, one night and celebrate her well-deserved promotion to HR director at a Harlem nonprofit. And I got to go to the David Bowie exhibit with my boy, Tommy, and celebrate his 26th birthday.
Profound thoughts continued this morning when, for a variety of reasons, Dee, Virginia and I attended the morning Unitarian-Universalist church service a few blocks from our hotel. The sermon was about loving a dying world, how to have hope in the face of environmental destruction. I was in tears by the end of the service, it was all so relevant — finding religion in the great outdoors, following our passions as the best defense against cynicism and despair.
I’m soaking up these messages from our two days off while also working to accept gracefully all the kindness and generosity being shown to us on this trip — from friends and family as well as from strangers. It’s dawning on me that even though we will reach the Canadian border in three weeks, this trip is part of a larger journey that won’t be ending any time soon.
And all this deep thinking comes after just two cups of coffee today at breakfast, I swear. Oh, and there was a mid-morning latte...
Time to reflect: Visiting the UU church on Upper West Side