Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Glimpses of spring in winter

I'm sitting on a park bench in New York City, overlooking 42nd Street just east of Grand Central Station, waiting for the bus that will take me home from a lovely girlfriend getaway in Manhattan. Right now it's an unseasonable 62 degrees and sunny; yesterday it was windy, rainy, and just above freezing temps. Kids are playing in a nearby playground. Folks are out in t-shirts and sunglasses walking dogs. Colleagues in suits are lunching on nearby benches. Everyone seems relaxed, smiling, happy to be outside on a Wednesday in February. Like we're all sneaking one past Mother Nature; even the birds are snickering. Everything is fine and beautiful.

Then I pick up my iPhone, check Instagram -- which is usually a fairly neutral, politics-free social media space -- and I see posts about high school students walking out of class in protest, Elizabeth Warren voted into silence on the Senate floor, President Trump talking about terror attacks in Sweden that never actually happened, the Army Corps of Engineers granting an easement and allowing work on the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue. Everything is fucked up.

Yet right here, right now, from my seat on this particular park bench, life is peaceful. The Chrysler Building gleams and glints in the distance; yellow cabs honk and zip on the street below, tourists hustle to their trains at Grand Central. Elementary school kids in crinkly uniforms just walked by me, paired off, each holding hands with a buddy on their way to the playground. They're focused only on the hand in theirs and the games they're about to enter into. The lunchers on the benches to my right talk and smile and laugh; they're focused only on their sandwiches and their conversations. The dogwalkers continue their strolling, the birds continue their chirping, the sun continues its shining.

A notification pops up on my phone's screen: Blizzard warning! Tomorrow, all along the eastern seaboard. Winter is still here, of course. And isn't this the perfect metaphor for this time in history we've entered? Glimpses of spring even in the middle of winter: We just have to be sure to notice.