New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Know

There are a number of life scenarios where someone expresses the sentiment that he/she just knows. I have often heard this regarding house hunting - something like: "As soon as we walked in, we knew." Some feel this way about their belief in God. That it is not the result of any cognitive process - they just know that God exists. And many, of course, feel this way about their significant other, even on first meeting - it was love at first sight - they just knew. Of course, there is always the possibility of over exuberance or self delusion. Nonetheless, valid or not, the conviction of a strong, knowing feeling does give a person direction and focus and not squander energy on hapless searching. The middle way can be no way. Take it from someone who, in many ways, has been a perennial fence sitter.

I cannot say that I have often had a strong feeling that I just knew something was right, except when I arrived in New York City for the first time. I will admit, of course, that at that age, in tandem with being starved for culture and stimulation, perhaps I would have had that feeling about any city. That I cannot know.

There is an episode of the Andy Griffith Show where the lead character, Andy, a sheriff in a small town in North Carolina, tries to reconnect with an old high school girlfriend at a class reunion. She, however, has moved to the big city, Chicago, and the episode revolves around their bittersweet attempt at reconnection. It becomes clear why their relationship never was successful - they are just fundamentally different people.

There is a scene in the episode which is particularly poignant to me and really captures the essence of people attracted and repelled by cities. Andy's friend is frustrated by his apparent lack of need to go to the big city to broaden one's horizons and explore beyond the bounds of his small rural hometown. She cannot fathom how he can really and truly be happy with what he has if he has never been to the big city to see what he does not have. To this, he responds that he just knows.

To me, that is an extraordinarily profound statement of the utmost self confidence and awareness. Some may say it is extraordinarily naive. However, I have met many intelligent, educated, sophisticated and worldly people who are content to live their lives in a rural environment, even in the small town they grew up in.

The urbanite often sneers at the country bumpkin, seeing him or her as unsophisticated. But perhaps the differences between people has more to do with different styles. I wrote of this in my story, Quite Refreshing, Really:

I am reminded of the film The Way We Were where the ability of two very different people (Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand) to get along is painfully tested and results in a parting of ways. In the end, Redford explains that his decision to separate is due to their different styles.

I have questioned the value of living in New York City and bearing its hardships, one of the dilemmas most New Yorkers face (see Dwanna). I have toyed with leaving many, many times in the four decades I have lived here. I have entertained the country, other cities and other countries. However, although it has taken some time, I can, at last, peer into my soul and see what lies inside. And lest I need any reminder, I can look up at a vista, like that at 42nd Street and Park Avenue, and I know.


Ron said...

What a wonderful post about my favorite city in the whole world.

I too had that same feeling as kid, during my first visit. I knew I wanted to live there. And I did, for five years.

I now live in Philly, but will often visit NYC to get my fill of 'life force.' That's the thing about NYC. As challenging as some of the hardships can be, it's a city the GIVES back.

"I can, at last, peer into my soul and see what lies inside. And lest I need any reminder, I can look up at a vista like that at 42nd Street and Park Avenue and I know."

Beautifully said!

Yes, I live in Philly. However, my heart will always live in NYC.

Brian Dubé said...

Ron - thanks. I worked to convey my true feelings, up and down, about New York City. Glad it translated.

Sue K said...

Amazing post!

Brian Dubé said...

Sue K - If I said "I know" that might be cute or clever, but also quite egotistical. So thanks! :)

Umar Nadeem said...

wow its great picture you blog is really too good regards

Urdu poetry

Rigel said...

Brian, this is how I feel about the city and exactly how I felt when I started considering NYU. I just knew. And everything has exceeded my expectations so far. Great post.

time traveler said...

Another awesome view!!--Thanks Brian, from a country bumpkin..

Mary P. said...

The summer I turned 16 I was offered a job in my local library, thanks to the librarian (who even let me read Bocacchio's (sp?) "Decameron" (in those days it was on the list of Forbidden Books by the Catholic Church.)

But I had a chance to work as a file clerk in an insurance company IN MANHATTAN!

I have never left. I wonder who I would have been if I had taken the job in the library?

Chicken Underwear said...

that was nice....

Jessica said...

Brian, thanks for bringing NYC close to someone being far away in Europe!

Naomid said...

Truly one of the greatest and awe-inspiring entrances in NYC.

jing said...

I have once lived in NYC 2 years ago and loved the city. The vista on your photo was my daily view as I lived and worked nearby, and it made me miss my life there. While I am back on my home country, the Philippines, my heart will always be New York City. I know I will be back and when I go back it will be permanently.

Thanks for your wonderful photos and blog. I am rediscovering New York through your blog and it builds my excitement in going back.

TheKrisHil said...

I feel like you have taken what is in my heart and conveyed it so eloquently.
I fell in love with NYC for the first time in 2006 when I visited there. I have returned once every year since then. Each time I'm reminded of how much I love the city.
I've made the decision to sell my house here in Texas and move to NY. While I may not live in the city, I won't be far away. :)


Brian Dubé said...

Kristina - does that mean that in some way I have been an influence in this decision?

TheKrisHil said...

Not so much an influence as a constant reminder of all that I love about the city.
I've been reading your blog for a few years now. I was so happy upon finding it because it gives me a sense of connection. It's like having an invisible lifeline.

Mickaël said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mickaël said...

Brian, I read your blog since more than a year, and this post is the one that affected me the most, because it describes my feeling about NYC in such a way that I can't express myself.

Thank you ! :)
M. From Paris - Future New-Yorker (because I just know it)
(And sorry for my inaccurate english)