Yes, a proper ‘musing’, though it’s kind of lame; you’ll forgive me, right? I’ve been sick and devoid of all useful thought. Up next, more bands.

Tompkins Square Park, New York City ~ May 3, 2011

I had driven into the city for a few days to clear my head, see a few shows, and try like mad to regenerate after nonstop work for the past few months. But I felt used up and drained of all life, wandering aimlessly around the Lower East Side.

It was a gentle spring day, with the colorful, off-kilter vibrancy of that part of the city, and I found myself walking into the park, searching for some sustenance.

For such a tumultuous city, inside the park’s confines there was a peaceful order. Old men playing chess at tables, children running around in a playground, parents chatting nearby. Dogs and their owners romping gleefully in a gated area. Little neighborhoods of humanity with imposed and accepted boundaries.

I circled around, noting each subdivision and looking for mine. Where do I belong? And there, I saw it. Actual grass. And trees, even! Large ones too, residents long before anyone else; taking in all the vast cultural changes and quirks of appearance throughout the city’s rich history.

Like happy little islands in a sea of green, singles and groups had staked their claim in this idyllic scene, birds fluttering their approval overhead. There was a couple reading to each other, serious-looking with long dreadlocks. Another couple with acoustic guitars, playing soft music. A group of friends having a picnic. A single woman, a single man; one reading, the other with eyes closed in contemplation.

Yes, this was it. A beckoning patch near a regal tree called to me. I answered it with the grateful cry of a wounded animal. For a time, there was symbiotic harmony. A simple wish for peaceful respite from the daily storm.

I spent a while writing, then reading, but when the words started to float irresponsibly about on the page, closed my eyes to meditate on the simple sounds of birds, quiet music and conversation, a distant city.

Until the intrusion. A family of four, oblivious to the existing synchronous rhythm they had trodden upon, quickly asserted their authority. Setting up shop within feet of me, yuppie sensibility permeated the air like a putrid cigar stench. They began parenting loudly to their toddlers, over-exaggerated conversation that was either forced patience, or an insistence upon communal child rearing. Why do people do this?

Their bossy, self-important tones were as disturbing to me as I’m sure they were to those kids, who were then left unsupervised to frolic amongst (and from the ensuing conversation, I’m guessing pull apart) surrounding plants and vegetation. With closed eyes I heard the parents being scolded by someone nearby, “you shouldn’t let your children play around those” (those what??) “they’re for everyone’s enjoyment.” I tried to close my mind and continue my interrupted meditation.

In their insistence upon our attention, it was as if they were looking for society’s approval. “Look at us; we’re model parents. See the great job we’re doing? We feed them all the right foods, impart all the right lessons. The best advice from all corners, designer clothes, designer schools, ballet and piano lessons, saving for their future…” Those sentient beings with their innocent eyes looking up at you, waiting for guidance, dependent upon you in every way. My god, you must be terrified as hell. How will you deal with life as it plows its way into your carefully designed world? How will you explain the wars, the famines, the injustices? How will you keep a positive attitude? Where will you find the answers to all those inevitable questions, when you can’t even find them for yourself?

The more brazen and blustery the display, the greater the fear. You’d better keep playing your outward charades, as best as you possibly can, while you try to figure it all out.

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