retreads: the nexus of the universe

bermuda is one of the most beautiful places in the world. i was quite surprised, therefore, when my wife told me that our visit to nyc was her favorite part of our recent trip. it was striking to visit the places that serve as backdrop to so many of our favorite tv shows (i walked where seinfeld walked!). there are compelling reasons why new york city is the setting for so many novels. times square must be seen (for a moment, and then avoided at all costs). broadway is breathtaking. i am told that a modest apartment in midtown costs half-a-million dollars (in oklahoma, $500,000 will buy you a freakin’ mansion…freakin’ is greek for “opulent”). the scale of the city is beyond imposing–it is overwhelming. and we can’t wait to return.

most conspicuous is the celebrated manhattan “energy.” while i am no sociologist, i am a people-watcher. i learn a great deal from observing humans and their habits. in new york city, people take career very seriously. this is a generalization, but they work hard and they play hard. as the sun goes down on manhattan, the city comes to life. there is a line outside every night club and a wait at every restaurant. to me, the casual observer, it seems that this moment is the reason people want to live in manhattan. i watched them hook up with friends for an evening of “energy.” everyone is in a hurry–almost in a panic–and the atmosphere is alive with people ordering drinks, checking coats, and hailing cabs. the frenetic pace never abates.

i am convinced, though, that even with the invigorating night-life and shoulder-to-shoulder masses, manhattan is the loneliest place on earth. i sense that individuals are seeking to hide–not from each other but from their problems. i sense that they are trying to stay awake until the last possible moment, then fall suddenly into fitful slumber and get up the next morning to do it all again. as i looked up at the veritable sea of windows, i couldn’t help but wonder about the people behind all those windows. what are they seeking? what do they want? the answer to that question is obvious even to an amatuer culturalist like me: they are seeking fulfillment. they are looking for something that will scratch the itch deep within them. they are searching for “life to the full.”

it was so maddening to possess their answer and have no idea as how to bestow it. in a city of eight million, where does one begin?

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