A year ago yesterday Brian and I moved out of NYC, our home of 20 years, to our place upstate. Right before the move I found a book about a woman who retreats to a hermit’s life in the Adirondacks after some time in NYC. Snatched it up but didn’t crack it open till yesterday. Just this morning I reached the part in the novel where the protagonist talks about her deep ambivalence organizing fundraisers for children’s charities. It felt like staring into a mirror.
I didn’t do that sort of work, but I’ve had these thoughts and conversations. I remember being confronted with the parts of myself that surfaced during my youthwork, how the love I brought to it was intertwined with a deep-seated anger. I have a deep imprint of the week that anger showed up because I literally did not know I had it in me. What a revelation.
The question I keep returning to is the line between unconditional love and indifference. Is that even the right word? I’m not sure. But the more space I find in myself, the more unflappable I feel. The capacity for outrage is still around. I can feel the line to it, but it takes me much longer to get there.
When this first started happening I felt out of step with the times, out of time with the world, and extremely guilty for it. Now I am just deeply curious. My mom wonders how people can be so unmoved by news of anyone suffering. At the end of the day, am I like those “calloused people” she rants about? I don’t think so, but I can’t really justify myself. My younger self would certainly be outraged, not only at the world, but who I am now. Go figure.
Sitting here in the middle of Times Square reading this novel feels like coming full circle. Just last week I canceled a trip into the city because I wanted nothing to do with it, but what a difference a few days make. So far this visit has been so much fun. Yesterday I walked miles and the crowds didn’t bother me at all. I reconnected with the feeling of home.
Sending love from the heart of the city.