There are over 8 million people in New York City.
I try to keep my heart open to the many, many people I interact with every day. But surviving with almost nonexistent personal space requires adaptation...somehow I've become less aware of the constant presence of people, both known and unknown. For a time, I felt like a painfully self-conscious teenager, wondering what the hundreds of strangers I passed daily were thinking about my presence next to them on the sidewalks and subways. And then I remembered the lesson I first learned all those years ago: People aren't thinking about me to begin with.
But I also have a secret weapon to help protect my personal space: my iPod. Maybe it's not such a secret, as 50% of subway users seem to have the same idea, but there's something about popping in those earbuds that makes me feel like I am once removed from the crush of people around me. The music that only I can hear, selected by me for my particular mood, not shared with anyone else... In my more imaginative (and admittedly geeky) moments, I almost envision an invisible force field around me, providing a buffer between me and the sights, the sounds, the smells...the sum of which is sometimes overwhelming.
iPod magic works in the apartment, too. Turn up the volume, and I'm all alone...the tiny apartment with too many bodies per square foot disappears and I can do my work without interruption.
I will not become a calloused New Yorker--that is not what Christ would have me be--
But there is something to be said for a little adaptation.