Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Just Want to Be a Part of It

Last night on the way home from work I happened to scan the National Jesuit News, which is the in-house publication for Jesuits of the United States. Yeah, we cool, we got our newspaper. In general it's just like any other paper --news stories, features, commentary, interviews, as well as updates from the 10 different provinces of the United States.

Today's issue has a new feature -- "Jesuit blogs". Here was the first entry:
So, just to recap, walking in many parts of Manhattan is basically like agreeing to be the ball in a game of pinball. You thought flashing lights, loud noises, fun. But then, after a couple minutes, you're saying to yourself, getting smacked from bumper to bumper is really a lot less fun that I thought it would be. Please, Lord, please help me get down a gutter or down the hole.
Yes, it's a quote from my blog of about 2 weeks ago. I had no idea that someone over there was reading it, let alone liked it, so it was kind of neat.

Except as I'm standing there it hits me, hmm, I wonder how this particular quote, pulled out of context, will play here in New York City. And suddenly I've got Robert DeNiro in my head: "Hey, yoo. Yoo don't like New York; so what's keepin ya? G'on, crybaby, go back to your driving cities. G'on. Boo hoo."

You whinin' at me?

Then he pushes me down, spits on me and mutters "ingrate". I am the biggest loser (and not in a good way).

In the meantime as I'm reading and imagining all this I'm literally living the pinball experience once again, having to dart among fast walkers who simply can't be bothered to slow down or just adjust their trajectory. (My new theory: the underlying problem here is false urgency. Many people seem to think, I have to get there NOW, or I have to catch THIS train. And in some cities, that might be true, the next train might not come for 20 minutes. But in New York, especially weekdays, 5 minutes between trains would be a long time. So, other than in rare circumstance, that push to hurry is all in the head. It's one of my Zen phrases -- there will always be another train.)

And then having actually been like a ping pong ball between these fast-moving bumpers, I'm stuffed into a train compartment that is FULL at the doors, but not in the middle. (Another very interesting reality, probably in most subway towns -- we're willing to stand at the doors packed like sardines, but usually about 5 feet away, there's plenty of room to stand comfortably. Human beings -- what's up with us?)


The very special afterschool Hawaiian island Brady Bunch special moral of the story is this: the things you write when you blog are more public than you know. Way more public. When I was in Australia working in Cobar, that very, very remote outback community, someone came in one day and said, a lady told me you don't even like Cobar. (In point of fact I had been there a week, and was LOVING it.) And the weird thing was, this lady and I had never met. BUT... yep, you got it...someone had googled me, found this blog and read something that they thought was negative, probably comments that I had posted from other Australians about the unattractiveness of visiting a place as remote as the outback (which I was contrasting with my own excitement).

It really is amazing.

So, as I did then, before someone here decides to hock a loogie in my direction, let me clarify my position slightly:

We good?


Ken said...

Hilarious and insightful, Seamus. When are you getting syndicated?

Jim McDermott, SJ said...

Like a crime syndicate? I could be -- the Eraser!
Ooh, that's a bit sinister, though. How about -- Lead Fingers?

Anonymous said...

So you hate New York, McDermott? Shameful!

On a serious note: I'm always lamenting how SLOW people walk here so I guess I'm part of (your) problem. :)