Intent

It’s been a long time since you’ve all heard my dulcet tones. Time to correct that.

Follow the bouncing ball … never mind that there isn’t one 😛

They say that intent is everything. I have a habit of saying “they talk too much.” I mean, who the heck are “they?” anyway? Are these the illustrious Men in Black? Are Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith going to come up to me and blast me with a red light and erase my damned memory? Maybe if they show up, I can get them to erase certain parts of the last few weeks, up to and including Hurricane Sandy. Let’s just say I’d rather have been out  chasing the storm then dealing with my family that night.

But what I was thinking about on my walk through NYC today was intent. What are people’s goals when they get up late on a Saturday morning? It’s not too difficult to imagine that these, along with people, vary in so large a city as New York. Perhaps the young man with the leather jacket and the Elvis-like sneer to my right  thought he was going to score with the gorgeous brunette that’s at least six paces behind me (trust me, I spotted her blocks before he did).  Perhaps the older woman and her husband are on their way to a nice dinner followed by an off Broadway show. Little kids are on their way to Central Park with their tired but otherwise content mothers. The weather is nice, and we all might as well enjoy it.

Yet I’ve had conversations over the years about what the weekend means to people. I’ve had friends and co workers tell me that their weekends are meant to be “fun and games,” or that they plan on “partying hard.” The mentality here is something that I think Bill Cosby once spoke of in one of my favorite stand-up comedy routines. The “I’m going to go out because I deserve to go out, and dammit I’m going to have a good time” mentality kills me!  Hours later when they’re worshipping their toilet bowls after getting drunk and making assholes of themselves, this is what people call “having a good time.” Then I think about my weekends. I spend a lot of time writing, ruminating, and quietly walking the streets of Manhattan, watching people and pretty lights.  I used to think I was doing something wrong. I don’t think so anymore.

That hasn’t stopped me from feeling somewhat isolated of late. It can be a lonely experience to constantly loose myself in a crowd of strangers, shuffling to wherever the heck it is they’re going. Feelings of  “where’s MY special someone to hold hands with and enjoy Times Square,” are only a part of my range of emotions on this issue. As I was walking to Central Park this afternoon, I had to ask myself what my intent was. If you had asked me that question just before I left, I would have jerked my thumb back to the door of my apartment before turning around and giving the door a silent middle finger. Things at home have been … tense.

But intention is funny. The energy behind which an action is taken seems to make a difference. “What am I running from?” verses “Where am I running to?” are both legitimate questions as far as I’m concerned.  These are the questions with which I wrestle every single time I leave my apartment. Am I going to do the laundry to get away from my parents and my autistic brother who won’t stop babbling at top volume right outside my bedroom door as I try to write? Am I going for a walk in the city to get away from the stresses of work? Just what the heck am I trying to do every time I walk through Times Square and catch the eye of some young women?

What is the meaning of it all?

A great deal of that depends on perspective, of course. The glass is half empty for some, half full for others. Life is hard for some, and it is a breeze for other people. When I stop and think about this, natural curiosity begs me to wonder if I ever felt that life was a cakewalk? Have I ever felt like I don’t need to be afraid of people?

Can I ever walk through a crowd without eyeballing throngs of young men as though they are potential threats to my safety?

I’m not always sure this is possible. That I’ve even been trying to do any of the above didn’t become clear to me until today when I was walking toward Broadway for the umpteenth time this week. Glaring at groups of young men and balling up my fists in my pockets is common for me. That’s left over from having been mugged more than a decade ago. Curiously, that never happened in New York. But the surgery I needed to get rid of the formation of traumatic cataracts in both my eyes DID happen here. Not too long after, 9/11 ensued.

Life is replete with ironies, broken promises, and shattered illusions. The illusion of total control is one that I still cling to in more ways than I care to admit. But for today, I tried to let it go. For once in my adult life, I took a breath and slowed down. I didn’t walk with the usual breakneck pace of an angry business man on fifth avenue. I didn’t eyeball anyone unless it was to offer a grin (albeit a small one).  I didn’t snort in irritation when someone cut in front of me. There was no hurry. I had nowhere to go.

But when I have nowhere to go, I wind up somewhere special. How fitting. I happened upon a free Jazz Festival at Central Park. Thirty bands were all scattered throughout the park, and all of them were playing the same sets on the same list. Everyone who heard one band heard the same things that the other bands played, supposedly in the same order. I got to spend time listening to the smooth sounds of a band called “The Yes Trio.” They broke the rules for the final composition. They were supposed to play something called “Autumn In New York.” They played something completely random and improvised.

When I stared at people bobbing their heads in time to the beat, I smiled. Yet the moment I lost myself in the music as I stared at fire-colored leaves, my eyes began to burn. You don’t cry at the sound of smooth jazz unless you’re me. My bones became hollow reeds through which the music could flow. My chest became another drum for my hands.  I closed my eyes and felt safe for the first time since Sandy blew through my city and pissed off so many people.  This is what happiness is. My chest didn’t feel tight, my shoulders didn’t feel heavy, and I didn’t feel so alone anymore.  I was in a crowd of people who all felt the same way I did about the music. They, like me, felt free.

I didn’t expect that to happen to me today.

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2 Responses to “Intent”

  1. I’m so glad you felt happy today. Truly. When happiness happens unexpectedly it’s always the best feeling. I hope you experience it more and more often. You deserve to after the cards life has dealt you lately. Happy Sunday Angel 🙂

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