If anything, my experience in New York this week has encouraged me to revel in the details. So, in the spirit of this unexpected lesson, I have chosen to share some of the little teachings that have educated me thus far.
Lesson 1: Stop Gazing at the Forest
Adapting to a new place is a relatively minor aspect of our entire project. I have made this process a much larger hindrance than it needs to be. By dwelling on the grandeur of our location, I am clouding other parts of the program that could teach me something too. This week I learned that New York is a city that each outsider comes to know by a unique amalgamation of small things. By noting such particulars, I can diminish my own wonder. If I marvel at the great-big-city, I accept that I am an outsider. If I cock my head at a feminist, I acknowledge that she’s different from myself. By ignoring the commonplace perception of things, though, I can understand them on a new level. If I stop gazing at the forest, I can truly understand the program.
Lesson 2: If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything.
I don’t like to make decisions that aren’t based off of hard and fast fact or (my own sense of) keen intuition. Therefore, I often find myself on the fence about important political issues, moral dilemmas, and everyday happenings. What’s most annoying about such perpetual indecision is that, upon hearing a fresh argument, I can be easily persuaded by either side. Even when I am absolutely convinced by a new argument, I can never be sure because I know myself to consistently switch positions. This week I learned how important it is to stand for something. If you don’t take a stand, you’re vulnerable. It is so easy for you to fall.
Lesson 3: Take Care of Yourself.
In this city, it is acceptable, encouraged, and quite easy not to care about ANYONE but yourself. Too much generosity will leave you resentful and broke. Too much hospitality will leave you drained and despondent. And too many manners will make you late and sick. This place magnifies the selfishness of the human race, I think. Everyone has a little New Yorker in them. They just don’t know it until they get here. Some shoves, curses, harassment and a cold have persuaded me that I am better off focusing intently on myself for the time being. And I think that will be very good for me.