I came down to the water to sit at the feet of the City and watch 5 o’clock hit, which is when everyone in NYC keeps working. Except for the puddles of black snow hiding in the shadows, it felt like spring. I wanted to feel like spring, too, but my depression was stuck in another cold front. I wanted to lay my soul at the feet of the City and let the sun’s slow descent warm me up. And to wait during my laundry’s 20 minute wash cycle.
There were no empty, west-facing benches when I got to the river, so I stood and stared the City in its face. Instead of the usual beauty of 8.2 million people, I found bustle. Intolerable, pointless, suffocating bustle. I stood and stared the city in its face and felt that maybe, maybe the city was wrong. And maybe it wasn’t the only center of power and influence in this staring contest. “Your sheer size might only be a massive amount of misguided masses!” I would have yelled if the benches weren’t full. “You’re full of people striving and trying and not even close to living their lives alive!” The City responded by not even blinking. It’s boats and it’s planes, it’s offices, it’s traffic, it’s smog, and it’s streets kept going like I’d not even come. The UN, The Chrysler, and The Empire State Building just kept going. None of my usual towers made me feel humble.
So I watched the tide come in around the docks. I heard the birds chirping, hidden in the century-old gantries. And I longed for this city to go away, and I wished to have much less than we do. So we can get much more than we have. Where do these streets we build actually lead us? What do these towers we build actually give us view to see? What do we get at the end of each day? At the end of each life?
What I wanted right then was to be sitting in weeds on the shore of this river. On the edge of this river that borders a marsh left swampy; not leaning on a metal rail, standing on the concrete that filled in the marsh, listening to the gibberish of two-year-olds commercially packed in strollers fit to seat 10 being pushed back to their daycare.
Too much. There is too much. It’s so easy to survive that it might be too difficult to live. We’ve made up goals and reasons and purposes, phases of life and acceptable standards of achievements and progress. What we are aiming for is always too little and never enough. Too many friends to know any of them. Too many things to do to get anything done. Too much competition to have success in our own lives. We’ve been defined by our culture instead of defining our culture.
Too much. We have too much.