Cities and Travel

We returned last night from four days in New York City. The main purpose of this trip was to see the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But we were fortunate: dear friends from Chester County, Pennsylvania drove up to spend some time with us. On top of that, your grandmother and I saw some sights we’d never seen.

Our trip made me wonder why we don’t visit NYC more often. It’s an amazing place, full of energy and diversity. You can do and see things in NYC you can’t do or see anyplace else. It’s truly a special place.

You also can spend a lot of money very fast. But you don’t have to.

NYC has changed a lot since my first visit there. Times Square looks so much better. The city is safer. It’s cleaner. It’s more diverse economically. Brooklyn has gentrified and is now a hip place to live. Housing in the city is even more expensive. There are bikes everywhere. Restaurants and bars are smoke-free. There are fewer bookstores. The Twin Towers are gone.

If I were in my 20s, I’d consider attending college in NYC. And perhaps working and living there. That’s a far cry from how I felt when I was actually that age. Then, I was a country bumpkin who had what seemed like an innate fear of big cities, which seemed so overwhelming and dangerous. I had no idea what I was missing out on.

In the final analysis, though, I suppose I’m still a country bumpkin. As much as I love cities, I never feel completely at home there.

Give me a walk on an uncrowded beach. A solitary hike in Montana. A bike ride from Loveland to Boulder and back. A quiet evening with friends. A book.

Yet I realize cities are where opportunities await you, Vera. Economic and cultural opportunities are found primarily in cities. It’s likely you’ll live in or very near one. There just isn’t much for you in the country or small-town America. Many of those places are withering on the vine. Cities have always been the center of progress, and they’re likely to continue to be just that.

But, of course, it’s not an entirely either-or proposition. Even if you work and live in a city, you can carve out your own space. You can resist the temptation to allow the activity of the city to overwhelm and over-complicate your life. It just takes effort. Conscious effort.

And you can travel. For no matter where we call home, it’s not home to everyone or everything. There is so much more to the world than what we encounter in our daily lives.

Here’s some of what Anthony Bourdain had to say on the subject (taken from A Dozen Lessons about Business from Anthony Bourdain by Tren Griffin):

“I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” 

Learn from them. From each other. Stretch your experiences. Your mind. Resist the urge to be too comfortable with the known. To become stagnant.

We haven’t been traveling enough lately. We need to fix that.

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