“Do you think we are getting too old for this?”, asks my husband, John, as we are sprawled on the hotel bed, fully clothed, wearing parkas, long underwear, and wool socks. Indeed, it seems we are. We took on New York City, and like any good tourist, we took it ALL on. Let’s see: The Tenement Museum, a walk on 5th Avenue to see all the holiday windows, a food tour of Brooklyn, The Rockettes’ Holiday show, the Empire State Building, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and a Broadway show. Oh, and a visit to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. All in 3 days and 3 nights. It was cold. It was crowded. We were exhausted. And I came home sick.
My original intention was to do an act of PEACE every day that we were there in New York City, and write about it every night. Best laid plans, as they say. I did not once have the chance to even open my laptop to add to my blog. Running form site to site in the cold and crowds of New York City does not create PEACE. Period.
So, I am taking time between naps and nose blowing to write in hindsight about Peace. Because although I did not “do” peace, I did notice it.
First of all, although the city is teeming with humanity, people are actually polite as they are running into you. I asked one tour guide, a native New Yorker, “People here do not seem rude, even though they are often portrayed that way.” He thought a moment and replied, “No, I would not say we are rude, although there are of course exceptions. But we are in a hurry.” I cannot tell you the number of times someone ran into me and said “Excuse me”, the number of people who held a door open for me, the number of people who motioned for me to “go first”. It was very heartening. The citizens of Manhattan were polite, which gave me moments of PEACE.
Then, we went to see “Come From Away”, on Broadway. This play is based on the true story of the town of Gander, Newfoundland. On September 11, 2001, in the wake of the World Trade Center attack, a total of 38 airplanes were diverted to Gander, a town of 10,000 residents. This town housed and fed over 6,500 passengers and crew for up to 6 days. The town’s spirit is captured so perfectly in this musical. Their generosity, humor, and kindness reminded me of the PEACE that we can spread to others just by opening our hearts and homes and by helping them out.
Another thing I noticed: for once, I was truly in the minority. I was surrounded by people of so many nationalities and races. And really, it seemed as if they were all getting along just fine. That seemed to add to my optimism that we might just learn to get along and achieve some real PEACE.
Finally, on our last day, John and I went to see the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. As you might imagine, the stories told there were just stunningly sad. I’ve never spent so much time in a place where no one is talking. No one dared disturb the peace that this memorial creates. It is tragedy for sure, but the creators of this memorial deserve unending praise for how they have told these stories. There is a peacefulness among the sadness. We are all together in this. We can all grieve together.
So, I went to NYC expecting to do acts of PEACE. Instead, I noticed acts of PEACE. Now wasn’t that a surprise?
I’m off to bed now.