Love from New York

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Tanner and I have been working on preparations for a Thanksgiving meal delivery that will take place this Sunday. Everything is just about ready to go, which is a relief. The past few weeks have not been that hectic, but I naturally get anxious with these sorts of things. And, while I’m excited for the event, I’m also excited for it to be over. Is that bad to admit?

My birthday is the day before Thanksgiving this year. I’m turning 24, which means I’ll officially be closer to 30 than to 18. Therefore, I felt it necessary to curl my hair last night so as to relearn the art of being a presentable adult woman as opposed to a wild-haired hermit with questionable hygiene.

I’m looking forward to the mid- to late-twenties portion of my life, but it’s still hard to accept that every year I will only get older and move forward. Sometimes I wish time moved in reverse because I know both the wonderful and difficult things in my past and, therefore, I know that if I won’t enjoy certain parts, then I will at least know how to deal with them. The future, however, is uncertain, and that makes it a bit scary.

Despite my ever-present hesitation to allow the future and all it’s uncertainty to enter into the realm of the present, I must say that this whole getting older thing does bring with it the opportunity for much needed growth in my life.

For instance, last weekend found us yet again in the beautiful New York City. I’m not exactly sure what it is about this city that makes us so ready to sell all we have just so we can afford to live under a bridge in Central Park, but I think it has a lot to do with the coffee and the bagels and the hugeness of everything around.

Something I’ve learned from our travels to New York is that, while a lot of people do not like to get lost in a crowd or feel that their existence is just a tiny pin prick in the vast expanse of time and space, I do. I love the enormity of the city—the overwhelming size of the buildings and the swarms of people—because seeing and hearing and taking in so many sights, sounds and even smells reminds me that I’m a part of something much bigger than myself.

Too often I forget that the world exists beyond the four walls of my living room and the friendly smiles of my church friends and fellow Starbucks frequenters—even beyond an hour-long Netflix show or a 10-minute CNN report. It’s easier to focus on the things I’ve always focused on, such as making sure I don’t look too young or too old for my age or I don’t appear less successful than my peers or I don’t have to wait too long for my pumpkin spice latte, than it is to imagine what the rest of the world is focusing on—to put myself in the shoes of people who are sick or sad or struggling. Ultimately, I let the potential fear and pain of feeling for others outweigh my potential for love and compassion and any opportunity to lend a helping hand.

That’s why I like New York. Because when news comes in about terrorist attacks in Paris and all the major cities are on high alert, I can look around at the people who know exactly what I know yet keep talking and smiling and enjoying the energy and the life emitting from one another. I can see the guy selling me a black-and-white cookie is tired, and he is old enough to have a wife and a couple of kids waiting for him at home, and I find myself wondering if he wouldn’t rather be there with them, and then I realize how fortunate I am to be enjoying my vacation and eating a cookie with my family instead of working all night in a city on edge. And, because I’m older and my selfish sense of entitlement has maybe begun to fade just a little, I realize I did nothing to deserve my favorable role in this scenario.

In short, New York reminds me that I’m capable of empathizing with complete strangers who may or may not look like me, talk like me, or pay any attention to me at all. And I find that very comforting because empathy is the beginning of love; and love is the only thing that can get rid of fear—fear of getting older, fear of releasing control over my future, fear of losing everything I think I’ve earned, fear of being vulnerable in an effort to help someone else…. The list goes on and on.

So, as I enter into my 24th year of life, I want to let love grow in consideration of the people who remind me every day that getting further from what was is necessary to bring about the greatness of what will be. I want to show love for my husband when I’m frustrated and I would rather keep fighting than work through an issue, love for those I don’t see eye-to-eye with on certain issues, love for the tired man who kept forgetting to give me coffee to go with my black-and-white cookie, and love for anyone who is hungry and needs someone to feed them or displaced and needs somewhere to go.

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