Grand Views, Little Things
Whenever I drive home from work, I get this incredible view of the Manhattan cityscape.
It’s about fifteen minutes into the drive. I technically get off at 6:00 PM, but my job, and the perfectionism I practice at my job, accumulate to at least 30-45 minutes of overtime. So, by the time I actually punch out—shutting off my laptop, making my final trip to the bathroom, and dragging my sleepy heels to my car—I’m about ready to knock back behind the wheel. At that point, the 35-minute-plus-traffic commute home seems unbearable.
Sometimes, I listen to a podcast to pass the time. Hidden Brain or RadioLab, something to keep my mind occupied while staring at the bumpers at standstill in front of me. Other times, I sift through the radio channels to find something pseudo-interesting—anything besides Taylor Swift on loop.
It’s not to say I don’t love my job. I love my job. As an editor, I get to sit and read for hours, relishing the stories I moderate. As a writer and reader and lover of words, to help sculpt stories into grammatical perfection is a privilege.
That being said, staring at a computer screen for nine hours can tire out even the most literate of eyes. So, it takes a great deal of effort keeping mine open during that ride home. Hence, the podcasts.
Fifteen minutes into the ride. Straight down the parkway—sometimes, I’m lucky enough to have an open road, and I can push 80 in the left lane.
And, just when I feel myself nodding off, my stomach grumbling for dinner and my legs itching for a good walk, I look to my right, and I see it.
It’s just a glimpse, over a public lookout—but it’s there. That gorgeous, mountainous outline, a concrete Manhattan glistening under a descending sun. The tips of skyscrapers piercing the orange clouds, layering over each other in a postcard kind of perfection. A view worthy of a public lookout, one that makes me envious of its audience, perched in their cars and watching the evening city.
Again, it’s just a glimpse. I’m pushing 80, and I have to avert my eyes back to the road, and regardless, the Jersey trees which enclose the lookout eventually mask whatever view I could have had of the city. But, it was a glimpse. And, let me tell you, that glimpse gets me through the rest of the ride home.
Somehow, that glimpse never fails to give me perspective. That tiny view reminds me of an inherent gorgeousness all around me, one that’s always there, despite how stressed I am from work, or how pissed I am at my mom, or how badly I want to eat dinner and take a walk and go to bed. Regardless of it all, that tiny glimpse makes all of the shittier stuff bearable.
It’s so easy to disregard the little things in our periphery. Those tiny details: the sun peaking through the clouds on a rainy day, your dog cuddling next to you on the coach, that last bite of a really satisfying meal. Those little things are so easily obscured by the bigger, nastier parts of our day—who has the time to appreciate the cityscape when it’s almost 7 PM, and you haven’t even started making dinner yet?
But, we do. We have the time. And carving out the time to breathe—to cherish those two moments of the Manhattan skyline—will somehow allow us to grin and bear the tougher parts of our lives.
Breathe, and enjoy the view. When you avert your eyes back to the highway—hopefully, it’s only been a moment, and you still have an open left lane in front of you—you’ll feel a lot more equipped to breathe through the rest of the ride home. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find yourself enjoying that Taylor Swift hit that turned up on the radio.