Last week’s New York trip ended too soon.
The hotel’s friendly doorman, with whom I’d been chatting all week, flagged us a yellow cab, threw our suitcases into the back, and wished us safe home.
I don’t much like these taxis, especially since they shortened them.
(Why did they do that?)
But this one was just a little bigger. It had just a bit more leg room, so my knees weren’t right up against the partition . Still, I felt blah as we pulled away from the kerb and joined the rest of the traffic edging through the ubiquitous Manhattan roadworks.
Ugh. The Friday afternoon crawl to JFK.
But then I became aware of music in the cab. There was a small TV screen right in front of us, and at first I thought that’s where the sound was coming from. But it turned out to be a Lionel Ritchie track.
Steve and I looked at each other, shaking our heads. We like music. But Lionel Ritchie?
As it continued, we couldn’t fail to notice the cab had surround sound. And – I never thought I’d say this – Lionel started to sound okay.
Better than okay.
And as we continued sitting in traffic, one Lionel Ritchie track morphing into the next, the sound of jackhammers and reversing dumper trucks receded and calmness began to descend.
From having been imagining the journey as a chore, I began to relax into it. Even enjoy it.
To Steve’s horror, I started singing. And then laughing at myself. I was having fun.
I felt brighter. More able to be present to the good in what was going on rather than to my grumpiness about going home.
We drove over Queensboro Bridge and began to get a wonderful view of the New York skyline. No matter how many times I see it, it just takes my breath away. Just a little into Queens, we sat in traffic again, Lionel Ritchie running with the night, and Manhattan right there across the river.
“Isn’t that just the most amazing sight?” I said.
And that’s when it struck me.
That skyline, the city and everything it comprises haven’t just appeared by chance. Millions of people over the years have created it. Everything from the skyscrapers – including Freedom Tower with its cranes now well higher than the Empire State Building – to the theatres, restaurants, and street vendors who pull their stalls into the city at early o’clock.
It was all created.
Things first imagined, or thought about, have been brought into being. People have dared to get behind their ideas and make them happen. The sheer scale of boldness and vulnerability was just, in that moment, awesome.
Next I realised that the experience I was having right then had been created too. I haven’t been in many (any?) other cabs anywhere in the world where I was treated to surround sound. The cabbie must have at some point decided he was going to do something a bit different. Hell, even if he’d done it just to make his own journeys easier, it was inspired.
I’d judged it as cheesy when I first realised it was Lionel. But I’d ended up enjoying it.
So, I arrived at JFK feeling thankful for my ability to have had the week I’d had in New York, and inspired to write about the experience. And as the driver got our bags out of the boot, I looked him in the eye and said “thanks for the music”.
His face lit up with joy.
Joy in having been appreciated for his creation.
And I wonder, what will you create today?