I was in New York last weekend, first at a conference at a hotel in Times Square and then for a couple days on the Upper East side near the museums. Both places a world away from my daily reality in St. Louis. Times Square with all the lights day and night and noise and so many people on the sidewalk with umbrellas you need to be careful not to get poked in the face.
The Upper East side another world again; much quieter, but with so many stores full of clothing and jewelry that draw merit not from materials but from names- reminded me of a sentence from Thoreau “a man is wealthy in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to leave alone.” At the time I paraphrased it for myself- I am wealthy in proportion to those things I can live without, which is most of the stuff on the Upper East side. It was a nice place to stay though, in the same hotel where I had a postage-stamp-sized room last time when there for a meeting at Mt. Sinai up the street. This time the room was a lovely big one with
lots of sunlight and windows. It was my home for a couple days while I went to the Frick and the Metropolitan. I was particularly taken this time with Ancient Egypt. Imagining the people thousands of years ago observing nature so closely and representing birds, snakes, cats, turtles, dogs in reverent detail in their hieroglyphs and art. The observation, time and effort all of it took, it touched something in me and drew me in until I’d been there most of the day and had only a couple hours to take in the American painters. Maybe a part of me mourns the fact that everything changes so fast in these times, as I know they must, but I have ever thought I must’ve been born a few centuries too late.