Walking has become an integral part of life here in New York. A quick glance at my Garmin watch tells me that I’ve walked nearly 75 miles this week. I’m not really sure where all those miles were accumulated, but I guess it makes sense. It used to take me around 3 months to noticeably ruin a pair of shoes. Now, I’ve whittled the life of shoes down to around 1 month. There were some incredible Skechers that I found at Costco for about $30. In retrospect, I should’ve bought like five pair of them at this price. I still wear them from time to time, but the outer sole is almost worn through entirely in the forefoot.
The dogs love the walkability of New York. Chevy likes walks well enough, but I don’t think that he is quite as serious about walks as Digby is. Once the harness goes on, “Eye of the Tiger” starts quietly playing in the background in Digby’s head. We get out the door and onto the sidewalk. Sure, he might enjoy sniffing and peeing on things as much as Chevy and other dogs do. He also occasionally stops and gets scratches and pets from people he knows. But for the most part he is singularly focused on getting his walk on. Eyes ahead, head held high, ears lightly bouncing, and short muscular legs pushing ahead on the pavement in tempo with the Lady Gaga song “Applause.” People complement him and ogle him, but he just keeps on walking. He’s a bulldog and he’s on a mission. When walking them both at the same time, I have to stop for Chevy to pee on all the things or pull him back from growling at another dog. Digby will stop and look back at us as if to say, “C’mon fam, let’s get these steps. Let’s pave these streets and get our Ron Deberger-on.” (Digby is very intune with South Florida politics for some reason.)
Digby did pause and inexplicably run to a guy wearing a backwards baseball cap who took a knee and greeted him with very southern “look at this fat dog.” Digby grunted happily as he received vigorous ear scratches and pets. The guy was visiting NYC from Roanoke, VA with his wife and kids and missed his dogs. He said that most people won’t let you pet their dogs “round here.” It was nice to hear a southern accent. You don’t hear them much in Manhattan, except in jest. I have yet to meet or see an actor perform do a southern accent correctly. (Except them being from a southern state.)
I have become more aware of my own accent quite a bit since being here. The way in which I say certain words, the expressions that I incorporate into my speech, the way in which I comfortably lean into words at my leisure. These don’t all have to do with the accent obviously, but some are speech mannerisms. “You sound like the guy from the Dodge Truck commercials,” is something that I often hear. There have been several times in which I have pontificated for several minutes without someone responding only to find out that they, “didn’t say anything because they really enjoyed hearing me speak.” I’ll usually respond, “Yeah, my mom always told me I had a face for radio.” You’d be surprised at how many people just say, “Yes! OMG. I could totally see you doing commercials.” Those who heard or understand what I really said get a good laugh. I also make sure that they know my mother did NOT say such things.
New York City is a pretty black and white place. It has natural beauty, an incredibly diverse population, but for the most part it doesn’t have a large diversity of opinion because it doesn’t have a large diversity of thought. I’m not even talking about politics here. I’m talking about city practices, I’m talking about culture, I’m talking about localized economic issues, I’m talking about construction practices, engineering issues that have stagnated because the city has become so large that the people influencing culture and the people making the decisions for the city have become insulated from the world outside of New York City and the tri-state area. They simply do the things they do because it’s the way it’s always been done.
Speaking about a very specific area, I work at a branch of a major hospital system in NYC. Some of my colleagues would be shocked at the practices or lack thereof regarding patient care in our hospital system. I think it has a lot to do with the behemoth size of the NYC medical community. It’s hard to penetrate the thick skin of the NYC healthcare system because it is so large. Politics may be downstream from culture, but from what I’ve seen, the NYC healthcare system is way downstream from evidence-based practice.
Some people have a very gloomy prediction for NYC. I have hope for the city. Not just because I am dosing New York with a heavy helping of southern goodness, but mainly because I know there is
A risen Christ.
No where do you see this more evidently than Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A church founded by Tim Keller that seeks to serve the city pointing them to the one who paid it all. People are being changed by the proliferation of the gospel in one of the most difficult mission fields in the world.
As we approach this holiest of Sunday’s of the year on the Christian calendar, I like to take time to meditate on scripture and extra-biblical writings that lend themselves to giving me “a heart of flesh” like the book of Psalms speaks often about. One particular quote on my mind right now I can barely read without a glisten in my eye and swell in my chest. The quote to which I’m referring is from J.R.R. Tolkien’s work Return of the King towards the end of the story:
“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”An Excerpt from Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count.”