Living in New York City
New York City can intimidate you. People rushing around you at a frenetic pace. Crowds. Noise. Tall buildings emphasizing your insignificance. A mentally disturbed person screaming at no one on the street corner. People groomed or dressed strangely. Newspaper, radio, and television reports about crime.
Your first instinct might be to duck -- avoid it all, seek refuge. Overcome the intimidation, however, and the city is a place to grow that offers exposure to new people, lifestyles, and experiences -- and even places to quietly reflect on its rich diversity.
When I first came to New York City in the summer of 1969, the free spirit lifestyles encouraged in a big city clashed with my West Virginia small town values. Here neighbors don't watch you and gossip about you, police set law enforcment priorities, and people out of different cultures interact with each other. This was the summer of Woodstock -- the historic outdoor rock concert that dramatized the culture of a generation not only protesting a war, but the inhibitions of their mothers and fathers as well in LSD, marijuana, sexual liberation. In New York City, I lived with friends from West Virginia University who believed themselves to be pioneers in the new Age of Aquarious. Although I mostly observed, it was a summer of firsts for me: smoking pot, drinking alcohol -- and getting drunk, a sexual experience.
Through its theater, museums, wide variety of ethnic restaurants, adult education networks, and the rich variety of people who can walk into and out of your life unexpectedly at any time, New York City continues to open up new experiences to me. At the same time, the city offers quiet retreats for reflection on these experiences -- special parks, beaches, zoos, botanical gardens, churches and cathedrals. Fort Tyrone Park, which features the Cloisters branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with paintings, murals, tapestries, and sculptures from the Middle Ages in a monastic setting, allows you to experience the contemplative environment enjoyed by monks in the 14th and 15th Centuries. In Riverside Park, you can reflect quietly as you walk along the Hudson River. At the Bronx Zoo, you can commune with wildlife that roam in uncaged spaces similar to their natural habitat.
New York City is an ongoing educational experience.
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