A friend’s mother once told me that when her kids were young and prone to tantrums, she’d put them in the car and drive to the beach. They’d park at the pier, unbuckle their seatbelts, look out at the ocean. They’d watch the waves roll in, the sky change color, the sun sink into the sea. It stopped the tears every time, she told me, like magic.
Sometimes, in the midst of a heavy, waterlogged New York City July, I find myself missing winter - its gray skies and its crisp, cold bite, and the uncanny ability to focus that seems to come with the whole icebound package. Summer, despite its happy chaos, often leaves me with my head spinning. Mysteriously, managing day-to-day details (work, travel, friendships, finances) becomes a feat.
So, to clear my head, I walk. It feels good to move, to step away from work, to take a moment to people-watch. To remember that the world isn't mine alone. That life, like the ocean, is enormous – dark, deep, and undiscovered.
Yesterday, suffering from a bout of writer's block in the early evening, I climbed to the roof of my apartment building. On the streets below, my neighbors walked dogs, waved down taxis, shared coffee and conversation and kisses on the cheek. Buses passed. Bikes. Cars. Blocks away, the J train clattered across the Williamsburg Bridge. In the distance, the Manhattan skyline glittered, flickering awake.
My laptop, its cursor blinking, felt another universe away. I felt small, and it made me smile.
Reminder: Everything’s clearer (and calmer) from a distance.
p.s. On perspective.