Yesterday, walking in Riverside Park in NYC, I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk swoop down, grab a squirrel, slam it on the ground a few times until it was dead, and eat it.
An apt metaphor for life in the city.
I’ve lived in this city for my entire adult life. At times, I’ve felt like the squirrel, at times the Hawk. (except for the nasty eating my kill part.) That’s the dichotomy of life in New York: There’s the feeling of being no more significant than a rodent – hastily making your way around the throngs, virtually invisible, nervously dodging others lest they wallop you. But then there are days when just being a part of the greatest city in the world makes you feel like a hawk: soaring above the rest, conquering the small stuff.
In more than thirty years in New York City, I’ve gotten used to the swings from one extreme to the other. But seeing it like that – the hawk and the squirrel – it made me think: do I want to be one or the other? Is it possible in this city to be neither? I guess so. There are pigeons, after all. Non-violent, ubiquitous, sometimes reviled as rats with wings, and other times trained and kept on rooftops with love, or fed by caring neighbors.
I guess most of us are pigeons. Neither conquering nor being conquered, just making it through the day.
But that’s not who I want to be either- just another bird in the skyscape of the city.
So how do you stay aloft without swooping in the for the kill once in a while, and still feel like you’re soaring? Maybe you ruffle some feathers now and then – rather than devouring those in your path. Maybe you scurry a bit, squirrel like, but with purpose – planning for the cold winter ahead, keeping your head down.
But mostly, you spread your wings, and let the wind take you.