Why Travel Soothes the Heart
I didn’t really know what to expect when I came to New York City.
At first, the whole idea excited me — I think I fell prey to the preconceived notion that New York was glitzy and glamorous. I was led to believe in a green statue waving the fiery passion of liberty all over the beautiful blue horizon. I was Alicia Keys in her single, Empire State of Mind. I was fooled.
New York is gritty. Not only is it big, but it is full of people trying to simply survive. People are hungry to live.
Instead of being scared of the city, I realized I didn’t live in fear because I truly respected its demands — such high standards. If you can’t rise to the occasion, you can go elsewhere. The professional excellence is high… I now understand the work ethic.
I came to New York to reinvent myself. I decided I was going to become the worker I have always dreamed of, becoming hardened, crystallized—a diamond of relentless productivity. A little fairy dust of this secret haven of concrete could provide me the key to happiness.
What happiness was I searching for?
Turns out I got here and realized most of this shit is extremely unnatural. The way I handle the move so naturally is the perfect paradox — I am actually unraveling. I do all the things I am expected to do: smile yet don’t smile too much, do not talk about yourself, and walk promptly but not like a Nazi. These things weren’t deliberate, but instinctual. You sort of realize you are acting from something much deeper.
I move the way I am supposed to move, I respond the way I am supposed to respond. It is as if I have adopted the lifestyle seamlessly on the outside, while quietly falling apart and back together on the inside. While everything comes together without much mental willpower, my actual mind is being rewired. Cognitively, I cannot keep up with how much I do most of the time — my brain and my body are on two different wavelengths. My mind struggles to think and process the information, while my body mostly just goes.
Even more peculiar is my need for having highs and lows in my life. Nothing manifests the spectrum better than New York City. I need an extreme example of the delicacy of both mind and body’s presence. I need an exuberant life of hard-earned recognition and fame, yet I find comfort in the depth of my own isolation. I heal when the night falls, when the candles blow out. I heal when I have time to myself sans the human interaction with others.
I realized being a writer wasn’t about the fame associated with being a great writer — it was about the quiet moments you spend alone when you are supposed to be shelling out great work, those times when you don’t want to be writing and you force yourself to write anyway. It’s as if the world felt dull and you felt stuck, and then the sun came out — suddenly everything becomes warm, rosy, with inspiration coming on without being sought, and then recording from that wave of sudden motivation.
To write means to be invigorated.
You lose yourself in your work. You don’t respond well to others telling you what to do — or maybe you do, in the persona you develop for yourself. But the real you wants to rebel. Some do it in defiance, others in gallant protest to uncivilized institution. People are not meant to be stifled. We are the winning species, after all.
The more time I spend in New Jersey and New York City, the more I realize just how similar everyone is to the people back home. Everyone wants to talk about differences in mannerisms, perspectives, or whatever other basis for comparison there is out there… in reality, they are all the same. Everyone to me feels no different. If anything, people just act like themselves here and overcompensate in the South. Who knows? Maybe my views are already getting distorted.
Originally I came to be chiseled into a diamond from the lump of coal I viewed myself before. Something occurred to me recently, in my moments of darkness alone.
Moving to another place will not make your problems go away.
More so, moving to another place will almost make them worse. The flaws are much more glaring because you have zero distractions — all you have is your thoughts in silence.
Yet the problems are deafening.
I needed to address the elephant in the room. Finding myself in this city of concrete will not be an easy task, but it’s happening. I feel myself stretching like a piece of taffy. Instead of fighting the current, I just ride the wave now.
The ebb and flow of life is something out of my control.
By the end of it all, I will come out a different woman. I think that’s the best part of all.
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