I woke up this morning and browsed some friends' social media pages. I was floored at the phantasmagorical expressions that pours out of some people I know. Something about these moved me deeply and I began to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for being alive and for being a witness to this beauty and display of individual perspectives and languages from the heart. So much so that I was brought to tears. We could not possibly be any more different from person to person yet we are all so human. I don't know why but lately I have been thinking a lot about the time in my twenties when I lived in New York City. I was single, childless, and completely clueless. It was a time in my life where I still felt things could go any way; that there were still surprises around the corner that could lead me to the next big thing. It was a very fun and interesting time.
My favorite thing about that time in New York was my Sundays when my roommates weren't home. I used to live in Yorkville, just a block away from The Vinegar Factory up there and in the late mornings/early afternoons I would wake up and walk over there and spend at least an hour taking everything in with my five senses- touching the fruit I was going to buy, smelling all the fresh produce, taking in all the colors of mother nature's bountiful offerings chosen for sale by this grocer, tasting anything and everything they were sampling that day, and hearing conversations and the hustle bustle of a typical New York Sunday afternoon. I would carefully pick a wine and ingredients for my lunch or dinner and then proudly walk back home with my full bags (and much lighter wallet). I'd wave hello to my doorman who- upon seeing my grocery bags- would flash me a big smile because he knew how happy I was at that very moment. I'd put my ingredients in the fridge for later and always remember the feeling of "everything is as it should be" and just pure satisfaction with life.
Once I was ready to start cooking, I would take out all the ingredients from the fridge open the sliding glass door and let all the breeze come in. I'd light some incense, pour myself a glass of wine, put on some instrumental or vocal jazz (more often than not it was Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis) and get to chopping. What pleasure. Sometimes prepping would happen while the pinks and oranges would begin to disperse throughout the New York sky and I was suddenly in a Woody Allen movie. Those afternoons, I remember not needing anything or anyone but myself. I would eat in silence (except for the jazz and my thoughts) and enjoy every bite with so much delight. Sometimes after I cooked (if it was a lunch and early enough to still walk alone) I would walk the city alone, sometimes all the way down to Union Square, and take in all the interesting things that always abounded in that part of the city. Other times, I would walk the 72nd street path from East to West and back and sometimes get lost and find a coffee shop to sit in and be with myself for a while. I so thoroughly enjoyed that. One time as I walked that path, a solo saxophone coming from I don't know where began to play "Someone to Watch Over Me". The sun was low in the sky and I thought someone had just dropped me into a postcard. Or a Gaugin.
I was 28.
Since then, I have gotten somewhat caught up in the MORE game:
I need to have more.
I need to be more.
I need to do more.
I need to be more successful.
I need to make more.
I need to look younger (as in, I need to have more youth).
I need more wisdom.
I need more flexibility.
I need a more fit body.
I need more peace.
I need more time.
Many of us get caught up in this periodically, I'm fairly certain. I definitely do. And periodically, I press the reset button because I remember that's all nonsense.
Lately, I've been stressed at all the things I "need" because "I don't yet have them" and then I remembered New York in my late twenties. I didn't even have a sofa- three girls were so tightly packed in an apartment that there was no room for a sofa. All I had were the contents of my bedroom- a bed, a dresser, and some clothes. But I was having so much fun and felt so incredibly content and satisfied. I didn't even feel the need for a relationship. This time of abstinence (well, except for one great night with a friend/co-worker right before leaving town) and aloneness was so helpful to resolve that whole "a woman needs a man" thing for me. That changed from "need" to "it's so wonderful to have the absolute right one to accompany me". Once that shifted, I met my John.
And once I remember to shift the thoughts of needing more to "it's so wonderful to enjoy what I do have while still striving towards the things that are truly essential to my soul to have more of because it is perfectly okay to have dreams and desires," the world around me changes. I look around and see that there is so much. So many gifts, blessings, so much joy, so much to laugh about, so much to love, and so many to be loved by. So much art to appreciate, so much to be inspired by, so much time to create. Then my days become so full. They each become one long, remarkably delicious New York Sunday afternoon.