Typically I'm in the continual state of planning my next trip. As I'm preparing to go somewhere, my thought process tends to go somewhat like this: "I'VE saved this money to go here because I would do just about anything to be able to travel. I'M going to explore. I'M going alone so that I can do what works for ME and work through the city at my own pace."
What I've taken away from just about every trip, but especially NYC (so far) is this: the city isn't experiencing you. You're experiencing it.
The city has a pulse. It's alive. Horns honk. People speed walk. Doors open. Doors shut. Pigeons hop along streets consuming scraps. Subway trains fly through tunnels, blowing back the hair of all who stand on the edge of the platform. Espresso machines grind. Hot dogs sizzle on food truck grills. Graffiti practically bounds off the walls. The city is alive.
You don't own the place. You're just along for the ride.
It's almost like travel in and of itself is something that owns you. As much as you plan, you're ultimately not in control. You're at the mercy of the city.
I've been in NYC for two days and I've already gotten lost or turned around too many times for me to count. At that point I've had to do what I hate doing most: ask people for help. I'm an incredibly independent person. I'm not big on letting people serve me. Unless you're my family or a really close friend, I don't really want you buying me things or taking care of me when I'm sick. Receiving isn't my strong suit. That's something I'm working on.
I was talking with my pastor a couple of days ago about this whole concept.
Communion is good for me in that aspect. Partaking of the elements requires you to walk up to the altar and open your hands in such a was that communicates "yes. I need what you have." Other people are breaking the bread, placing it into your hand, and tilting back the wine glass as you drink. It's a humbling experience. At the altar, I am me in my truest form. I'm authentic. I come to the altar in last night's clothes, with all of my compulsions and issues in tow. At my church we always circle around the altar instead of walking up one by one. This gives me a chance to look around, see the faces of other humans, young and old, and see that they, too, open their hands.
Travel is refreshing for me because it always seems to provide a similar experience. Travel takes you out of your comfort zone where you can grip onto the absolutes and comforts. You're placed in situations where you're forced to rely on others. You're forced to reckon with others' ways of life. You witness other people going about their day to day routines and realize again that you're not the center of the universe. I feel very much centered and myself when I'm alone in my mind, walking in a crowd.
I still have so much to explore and experience here. Can't believe I get to stick around here another 5 days. I know there will be many great stories to share in the coming months.