Friday, January 12, 2007

Tribeca, December 2006

With the winter sun so low in the sky, often only the tops of buildings get direct sunlight. Because the streets are in shadow, I notice reflections a lot more. My eye is drawn to the sun shining up at me from puddles and car windows. This Toyota was parked on Franklin Street, offering a great view of the ornate buildings above.

Last night was a rarity. For once, I had nowhere to go. I was free to wander home at my own pace. So I decided to take the trip slowly and deliberately, to really experience my brief crosstown commute.

I left the office, descending into the windy, crowded night of Times Square. As I passed the neon and billboards I paid attention to my breath, as we’re taught to do in Zen - it’s a meditation technique that helps keep you in the present. I followed it in and followed it out as I walked. I took note of the signs and faces. I didn’t get impatient when people slowed in front of me; I just matched my pace to theirs. At that moment, theirs was the pace of my world, and I didn’t fight to change it.

In the subway, I didn’t run to catch the departing shuttle train to Grand Central Station, which I have been known to do. I just walked to the platform and waited for the next one. And after getting off the subway in my neighborhood, I walked to the grocery store and tried to really experience my shopping trip: the weight of the soup cans, the burning cold of the frozen orange juice, the heft of the overpriced pears. I stayed with my breath the whole time, inhaling and exhaling.

No great revelation - only my ordinary life. But I was there to experience it, for a change.

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