Thought for the day
An unlocked door means that, occasionally, you might get a devil come in, but a locked door means you have thousands of angels just walk by.
Ian MacKaye THIS past Saturday evening I was invited to have some “rooftop cocktails” at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. The rooftop, high above the neighbourhood, overlooked the East River and presented one of the best views of Manhattan I have ever seen.
I kept pinching myself to make sure I was not dreaming, while the rest of the time I was taking photographs of the bright lights of the city.
My friend was apologetic. “I’m so sorry, it’s overcast this evening,” she said. “The sunset from this rooftop is incredible! You would have loved it.”
A good while later she spoke to the group again: “I am so sorry about the clouds, you should see the sky on a clear night.”
It then occurred to me that, though it was almost 10pm, I could see her face, and the faces of the other party animals quite clearly. Slightly puzzled, I looked around and noticed that the rooftop was brightened with an eerie glow, and it took me a while to figure out where it was emanating from.
You see, back home the clouds at night blot out the light of the moon and stars, and when it’s cloudy in Kimberley it gets pretty dark, but in New York the clouds create a type of screen, a diffuser, that bounces the glow of the city lights back down and all around. So on a cloudy night, the darkest corners in the city, I would imagine, are probably illuminated by this ghostly glow.
It’s really something to see.
The lights in this place, in Times Square and on Broadway are truly dazzling, but after being in the city for a while, you eventually stop looking AT the lights, and start looking at what those bright lights reveal.
In a city of eight-and-a-half million residents and probably many millions of tourists, everyone is going somewhere. Tourists (like myself) are crawling along gawking at the many, many attractions in and around the city … getting in the way of New Yorkers who are trying to get to and from work.
We work on their nerves. Tolerance levels are pretty low in the Big Apple. Last week I saw a welldressed young man, probably in his early 20s, give a tourist, around 60 years his senior, a dressing down because he just suspected that the old man was trying to jump a queue. He wasn’t polite at all.
To me it seemed like the higher you are in society, and the higher you live above the city, the lower you tend to shove everyone else
– it was a disgusting display of atrocious manners.
But besides the impatient residents and the tardy tourists there are the “other” residents of New York – those who don’t move around much at all.
These residents sit on street corners, holding up cardboard signs and dig through the garbage cans for food … and most of the time they are ignored. After all
New Yorkers have to get to and from work and tourists are looking at the bright lights and the tall buildings.
But what should one do? How can these invisible residents of our cities be helped?
I once read that methods of helping the needy should be carefully considered, before giving indiscriminately to everyone who asks for help.
However, in trying to help the needy we should be careful to give them the right kind of help. “There are those who, when helped, will continue to make themselves special objects of need. They will be dependent as long as they see anything on which to depend,” the author wrote.
In the end, however, I suppose it’s up to the individual to decide whether you want to be like a cloud that darkens someone’s life or a screen that reflects light into the lives of others … I guess it all depends on how high your rooftop is.