Hand in hand, Dawson and I roamed the streets of New York City wide eyed and full of curiosity. There were artists creating spray paint masterpieces as we passed by. Little tables set up with tiny animal figurines and famous miniature monuments made out of colorful wire. NYC souvenirs spilled out of their tiny square footage shops much like the ones we saw the block before. Taxi cabs and cars with ‘Uber’ stickers rotated passengers as bike messengers wove through the concrete chaos. Each block seemed to carry a different scent aimed to draw you off the sidewalks and settle in a comfortable booth to rest your tired feet.
It was our third day in the city and we had overfilled every bit of our trip to this point. We wanted to take in as much as we could before we punched our tickets back home. I love traveling, getting outside of myself as I shed my responsibilities and forget about my ‘to-do’ list. There are parts of me that come to the surface when I’m away from home exploring new places that make me feel alive. As a quality time love language kinda gal, to me, traveling is one of the best gifts I can give myself and those I love. However being introverted, the fast pace of the city combined with my high energy 10 year old was starting to make my head fuzzy.
We walked off our overstuffed breakfast of chicken and waffles and made our way uptown to Central Park. Walking out of the grey jungle and into the green, I couldn’t believe how 5 steps one direction could make you feel worlds apart. We wound our way through Central Park and scaled the large rock wall to take in the view. A while later, a nearby park caught Dawson’s attention so we made ourselves at home. I sat on a nearby bench as I watched kids scramble up the stairs and tumble down the slide while others played basketball nearby. I took a deep breath as I looked around. The contrast of the lush, green grass and the beginning of autumn leaves shifting colors against city of sky scrappers was so odd yet extremely gratifying. It felt like we escaped something and were playing hooky.
After Dawson grew tired of the park, we walked past the horse drawn buggies and through the joggers and made our way to a small building. Curious to what it was, we walked closer to discover stone benches and tables with checker and chess boards set into the tops. We walked inside to borrow a checker set and I glanced at the map of Central Park on the back wall. We had been walking in the park for 90 minuets and yet the ‘You Are Here’ marker was barely inside the park parameters. I could not get over the enormity of Central Park, all 843 acres of it I would quickly come to learn.
We picked a table outside the building and set up our board. In between strategizing my next checker move I would look up and take in the space around us. I had never felt more inspired. After a short bit of time spent wondering Central Park, I felt completely reset from my low energy levels earlier that morning. I thought about the people that live in New York City and the fast paced life they must live, the pressures they must feel and the bandwidth they probably lack. And then it hit me: New York City doesn’t work without Central Park. There would be no breathing room, no retreat. There would be no escape to another world for a much needed recharge.
It got me thinking, what was my ‘Central Park’ in my daily life? I didn’t live in New York City but my life sure feels fast paced and most days I feel like I lack bandwidth too. Where was my breath between the notes? It’s the space between the notes that sets the tempo of the song. Without space, a song is just noise. And likewise, a life without space is just noise, too.
There will always be business people and fast-paced corporations that look out over Central Park and see sky scrapers and dollar signs. There will always be push back and controversy over if this really is the best way this massive plot of land could be used.
Living out of a very ‘noisy season’ as a single mama to young kids, I recognize the contrast of pause, the lightness of the space between. Laughs sound sweeter, joy feels deeper, love seems richer when there’s room to take it in. Life needs fun! It can’t work without it. I’ve never been more convinced of that. I want to live out loud with an ‘all-in’ lens but that can only sustain itself with pause.
What is your ‘Central Park’? How do you protect your space between the notes? We have to be protective of our ‘green space’ to not only explore it but to claim it, capture it and really live it out.