by Sandra Bark
The alarm rang for what felt like forever, and when it finally quieted, the neighborhood dogs took up the call. Then came the sounds of people hollering back at the dogs.
We sat and laughed, partly because it was funny and partly because we were relieved that we would not have practice to the musical stylings of an affronted Prius.
The episode got me thinking about how challenging it is to seek peace in a place like New York City. The city is noisy, not nirvana. It is an exercise in edgy, not easy. Even along the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn, far(ish) from the electric avenues around Times Square, the hubbub follows us home.
Yet just because peace can prove elusive in this bustling megalopolis does not mean that the city and its agents of Busy are our enemies in the search for peace. In fact, they may be our secret allies.
Take the iPhone, an unlikely harbinger of peace. Sometimes I shift the device too quickly, and a reminder pops up: nothing to undo. What a lovely thought for a Busy Person’s morning. Nothing to undo! Nothing to unsay, nothing to unsend, nothing to unworry about. You’re fine! It’s cool!
And sometimes, descending into the subway, I have swiped my MetroCard and been advised: too fast swipe again. Useful advice, surely, whether we are students taking an exam, bakers measuring ingredients, designers taking measurements, or yogis doing a handstand: Slow down. Do it the right way.
Then the train comes, I get on, and there is (inevitably) a delay. We are paused on the track, and just as I am starting to shift and lose my cool, the tinned voice says: please be patient. Says it so nicely that that I take a breath and find my cool, because patience is something I am working on anyways, and the message is right on even if the train isn’t my teacher of choice.
And just the other day, on my way to yoga, late, rushing, thinking about how impossible it is to find any peace in this godforsaken city between the garbage trucks and the fire trucks and the other trucks, a bus lumbered by, loud and annoying, and the LCD flashed a message that put me at peace. It said, have a good morning.
So I did. Car alarms notwithstanding.