It was 1949, after all

I suppose the blog title is E.B. White’s fault. White wrote an essay in the late 1940s about life in the city and said there were “roughly three New York’s.” He wrote of the city of the native, who gave it stability. He wrote of the city of the commuter, who gave it economy. And he wrote of the city of the transplant, who gave New York its dreams. Its imagination.

Each of these is accurate, and together they form a cohesive whole. A whole, perhaps, of the mid-20th century. There is, however, a fourth New York, a fourth city. One that has emerged more recently.

There are those who have come here in recent years under different flags to make the city into something new. Some are of my ilk, Christians. Some are not. Whatever their flag, they come to make the city better — more reflective of what it could be, so that it is now what it has long promised to be, dating to and before the Statue of Liberty made its declaration to those arriving on boats with nary the shirt on their back.

In September 2007 I returned to the city for the third time. It was only during this return that I came as part of the fourth New York. I soon adopted a Margaret Mead quote as my life calling: “A city must be a place where groups of women and men are seeking and developing the highest things they know.”

The fact is, whether carrying the flag of Christianity or another religion with the same posture toward the city, or whether coming with a worldview that is aligned with those carrying the flags, all of us in the fourth New York are guided by something greater than ourselves. And since we are guided by something greater than ourselves, and since we submit to this Greater Being, our city is the one that will last.

The imagination we operate from is not our own.

It was 1949, after all

Sure, I could have made it

In this iPhone app on productivity, one of the daily tasks I set up for myself is to “Help a stranger.” I’m starting to see that this app is not so much about productivity for me as it is about changing my daily habits and creating “good” ones.

Therefore, I’m walking along 14th St. right now, between Seventh and Sixth Avenues, being mindful of who I might help. Or perhaps I should say “whom.”

Today has been unseasonably warm but not uncomfortable. The sky and air at 6:15pm is a pastel bubble bath. Each of us walking along is swimming in comfort, splashing the water and smiling and taking two more minutes than our mother’s warning of “two more minutes.” It would not surprise me if there were no homicides in the city today. It would not surprise me if there were no strangers to help. There is an almost shared sense of well-being coursing along 14th Street and up and down the avenues, and we are like fish swimming lazily in those streams, not caring that the red countdown clock at the crosswalk is approaching zero. Uncharacteristically I stop when the count is at 9. I could have made it. Easily.

But, then, why?

Sure, I could have made it