I walk. A lot. My feet are my main source of transportation, as my Manhattan abode and general goings-on allow me to do so with relative ease. It’s nothing for me to walk 30 blocks instead taking a subway, bus or cab. If the ride is going to be 25 minutes or less plus walking to/from the destination, I often prefer to hoof it for the fresh air, exercise and lack of crowds — plus I save a few bucks and sometimes it’s actually faster! I put on my Ipod, clear my mind and de-stress with each step; I consider it a moving meditation and wonder what discoveries I’ll make along the way.
But in the Big Apple with its hustle and bustle, we must walk with a little protective bubble around us to keep us sane and safe — because if we truly took in everything all at once there would be serious stimulation overload, and perhaps a few unpleasant experiences.
Sometimes though, people take being in their own world to the extreme. I regularly observe legally blind men and women fumble or wait at a corner only to have folks of all kinds pass them by as if they were invisible. Perhaps a few notice but not sure what to do or are uncomfortable approaching a stranger. I generally ask, “Do you need any assistance?” Sometimes the answer is “No thank you,” but more often than not they just need to be pointed in the right direction, know if it’s okay to cross the street, or confirm what block they are on. Other times I’m met with profound relief as they grab my arm while I escort them wherever they need to go.
It never takes more than a minute or two, and the fact that no one else seemed to care upsets me every time. All it means is being a little more aware of your surroundings, which is a good thing no matter what, while still maintaining your don’t-mess-with-me NYC look and attitude as you strut you stuff.
But I realize there’s also something deeper to be learned from these moments, especially when they occur more than once in the course of a week: What is it that I’m not seeing in my own life? Where is my blind spot? How can I do more to show others what they cannot see for themselves?
So big guy (or gal), asking for direction(s) is never easy, but we all need help now and then. Looking for some assistance getting from point A to B? Give me a buzz and I’ll be happy to get you on the right path and walk you through, step by step, guiding as much or as little as you’d like along the way!
Originally published on www.kristinaleonardi.com on November 1, 2011
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