Notes from a Small Island

Sunset out an Airplane’s Window


Passing Time in an Airport

The E Subway Platform, Queens

Manhattan. So busy, so full of people, cars, buildings! So few stars, so few trees.

New York City is so overwhelming to me after spending so many weeks in the natural surroundings of Mount Desert Island. I remember getting into a cab yesterday and just noticing everything: all the lights, all the cars, the people. I noticed a lady walking down 2nd avenue in orange shoes. I noticed another woman crossing 81st street wearing shorts and a T-shirt, like it was still summer to her. She was carrying a giant Louis Vuitton tote. I noticed everyone moving to and fro, desperately trying not to notice each other. So different from Maine, where you say hello to everyone and most of the time stop to talk: maybe because there are so many less people? Maybe it is something else.


Monday Morning

This morning, I woke up early, as I have been lately. I looked out the front windows of the apartment, seeing people walk down the street holding coffee, getting into cars, throwing away trash, cleaning the streets. The light of mid-September in New York City in the morning is beigey-creamy-yellow, and the light streams around the leaves of trees that line this street. The leaves are turning brown and yellow at the edges, just hinting that fall is coming, is maybe, even, here. This quiet, morning time is the most important time of the day lately. There is nothing more fundamental than having time in the morning to just be quiet, to think, to write about what is happening, to think about creativity, artwork, people, love, and life. To remember sitting on rocks in the sun, strolling in the fog.

Something that I have to remember is that it is not the place: that no place is perfect and no place is the answer. The truth comes from within and the feeling of being pulled and pushed by something from inside the body or brain to see things fundamentally different. To focus on breathing and seeing the details, the parts of things, and to not get distracted or lost in the nervous, overwhelming feelings that are inside my mind right now. This mind of mine is pulling me into two directions…one to a place of peace and appreciation, the other to a place of fear and doubt, a place where I am scared of being hurt or not being able to escape. During this adventure, this tour of my country, the task is to appreciate and notice as much as possible while cultivating a sense of safety and direction again.

There is a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson which describes this sensation perfectly, I think, which I have copied for you here.

“Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower -but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.” (1869)

It is funny, to me, a person who has spent most of her life in and around small cities, around so many people and things and distractions and shiny objects, to be discovering and cultivating a sense of peace and calm and quiet. For the next few days, I will be watching people in this monumental city, this great place of art and commerce and architecture and life. I love New York, I love its passion and persistence, its madness, its constant shifting of people and energy and light, back and forth, day to day. I love its food, its stores, its museums. I love being just blocks away from Central Park, a place that, for me, has always held a deep sense of fascination as I watch people walk, sit, or play strange music under bridges.

So what am I trying to say here? Nothing in particular, just that, after twenty four hours of adjusting to being back in the world that most people live in, I am standing at a window, in the morning, looking out. Soon I will drink coffee, get dressed, and walk out the front door into the world again to look up and see what is to be seen today.

A Very Early Autumn Morning…looking up!

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