I live in New York City, where the volume is cranked up to high at least 20 hours a day. Living and working here is like being trapped in a video game where you're constantly darting from place to place while ducking, swerving and leaping to dodge obstacles like cabs, umbrellas, elbows and scaffolds. Sirens blare, engines roar, machines drone, lights flicker. Migraines pulse.
You cannot lose your concentration, even for a second, or disaster can strike. You wouldn't believe how many times my peripheral vision has saved me from being T-boned by a bicycle traveling the wrong direction on a one-way street. It's rough out there, folks. A friend of mine lost her focus one day and fell straight into a manhole in Times Square.
She was not the high score winner that day.
It just gets to be too much sometimes. I mean, there are people everywhere, all the time.
The traffic never stops.
Geezaloo, even the parks are crammed full of people!
...and baby strollers. Sometimes it feels like every square inch of this town is occupied. If you live in an urban environment, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Don't get me wrong; if I lived somewhere serene and quiet, I probably wouldn't know what to do with myself, but there are definitely times I feel like screaming, "Stop the world, I wanna get off!"
And so I do.
Believe it or not, there are spots in New York City that offer peaceful pockets of space where one can enjoy a moment of stillness and the company of their own thoughts like "What color is my parachute?" and "Who moved my cheese?" or "I wonder who's getting bitch-slapped on Real Housewives tonight?"
Places where you can spread yourself out on a bench, kick off your shoes and rest those weary tootsies for at least three whole minutes before you get antsy and slingshot your way back into the grind again.
Places like the Botanical Gardens, where the lush greens and purples are a welcome reprieve from the hard, cold grays of concrete and steel. There's one in Brooklyn and the Bronx for your horticultural pleasure.
Or the Highline in Chelsea, an elevated park covering what used to be an abandoned subway rail, which lets you see the city from an entirely different elevation. Go in the early morning before the crowds swarm.
You can even park your plank on a big wooden patio chair. (I tried swiping this for my backyard, but that sucker was bolted down.)
When I really need to be far from the madding crowd, I skip Central Park in favor of less populated ones like Prospect, Riverside Drive, or Astoria. Even Tomkins Square Park on the bustling lower east side is peaceful in the early morning. I try to get there before the first crack deal is made.
And then, of course are the art galleries of Soho and Chelsea. Much less crowded than the popular museums.
And if you really need a place to escape, there are more beautiful churches in this town than one could possibly count.
And so New Yorkers, I implore you to find a quiet spot somewhere in the city today. Do some tai chi. Take a chill pill. Find your center. Chill the F out.
And please, try to keep it down. I've got the disco classic "Lookin' for Some Hot Stuff" stuck in my head, and I'd really like to hear it.