Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Gas Mask

One lesson I have learned from the summer of my dad's stroke, is how intensely self-centered modern city life can be. I never realized before how the every day common elements of single life in the city are so luxurious.

Normality amongst modern adults in New York City is to live an existence that is perpetually free. We do what we want, when we want, where we want. We have private apartments and rooms and personal space. We float between personal engagements, work, and activity, guided by our own exploration and desires. We complain of jobs that don't fulfill our deepest levels of being. We are surrounded by choices, magnificent or putrid.

On friday night of fashion week, I had peppermint tea in the lobby of the Mercer hotel as Heidi Klum hung out with her friends, Karl Lagerfeld walked by, and one of Kanye's posse talked to my friend. And this was not so out of the ordinary.

There's nothing wrong with this world. I'm not judging it and calling it superficial or materialistic. The fact that our culture produces beautiful materials is incredible. Our culture allows for achievement in the tiniest threads.

My peers are chasing after cool, feeling constantly insatiated, and obsessing over ambitions and life's direction - so dominated by the chase that they often don't see the beauty in its freedom. Now I see this, and I didn't before. I have always understood privilege and luxury - but -

The fact that we are so free, on so many levels, with so many directions to go, so much space, so much of life dedicated to the self- to personal needs - is truly overwhelming.

I returned to New York City after taking care of my family for the summer, and not having my own apartment for so long - as I had previously shared a barely private, tiny space to save money. My room is so spacious and private, I don't entirely feel at home, or like this space is mine. I can't believe I have so much freedom to go and do and be whatever I want whenever I want. This is not something that my family has anymore. It all seems so luxurious.

It's truly incredible what has become normal in modern times.

And if I feel guilty, vapid, selfish, I do have one recourse:
the gas mask.

One cannot put a gas mask on another, until they have secured their own first.


Anonymous said...

Luxurious?! Take a walk at night and see how "free" you are

Major Generalist said...

One thing this world needs is more heart, and you have that. Your writing is moving and incredibly touching. Instead of turning inward and collapsing in self-pity, your experiences are allowing you to see more of the world around you. NYC is lucky to have you.