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    The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
 
    January 2, 2004    PAGE 7       > About LCL Magazine      > Cover Page      > Inside Cover      Feature Pages:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12    

  Featured Articles
 The End of the Resolution
 The Art of Letting Go
 Shades of Gray
 Jo Cordi's  Lifestyle Series
 Cosmetic Surgery: A First Look
 Indulge on Induction
 Harmonic Convergence
 Coming Full Circle
 A Time for Self Evaluation
 Resolutions for Healthy Eating!
 Summit in Denver
 Snapshot: TGI Friday's


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     Harmonic Convergence by Rob Chiller

                            "People only see what they are prepared to see."
                                                                      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rob Chiller has rediscovered the joys of speaking his mind after a decade-long stint in Corporate America. When not behind a keyboard, Rob can be found offering his unsolicited opinions on life to anyone who happens to be passing by his house.


   

It is difficult to have much faith in humanity these days. You can’t turn on the news or visit the mall without being reminded of all our shortcomings. War, terrorism, hate, rudeness, impatience, selfishness — we cannot live in today’s society and avoid these things. It’s truly no wonder prescriptions for anti-depressants have increased by roughly twelve billion times in the past ten years. It’s sad to think we live in a society bound by necessity, but torn apart by hate. It seemed to me that this New Year heralded nothing but more of the same, and hardly seemed worth celebrating. But then I thought about Times Square.

No, New York City is not usually the first place one thinks of when searching for a “feel-good” humanity story. New York, frankly, has the reputation for being about as friendly as a rabid wolverine, only without the manners. This was especially true before 9/11, and the public’s perception has changed only slightly since then. I used to live nearby, and have seen things that disprove that reputation, as well as things that reinforce it. The city, as with any mass of humanity, is unpredictable.

Which is why I approached my New Year’s trip to Times Square with some trepidation. Granted, this was back in the 90s, before the threat of terrorism loomed so close to home. But the city had enough to fear without it — I devised a plan worthy of the Secret Service to watch and protect my then-girlfriend (now wife) during our excursion into the sea of people. I prepared to be vigilant, aware of my surroundings, and never, ever more than 15 inches away from Marie. As we got off the train at Penn Station and headed towards Broadway and 42nd, I started scanning the crowd for “suspicious characters.” I spotted seven before we made it off the train station platform. This was going to be a challenge.

But as we hit the streets, amongst the thousands making their way to Dick Clark’s party, my nervousness slowly passed. The atmosphere was so joyful! Everywhere someone was laughing, smiling, singing. Even once we reached the center of Times Square, packed like sardines into the street, celebration replaced profanity on the streets of New York. It was if we were all old college buddies, or close family friends. We danced, we joked, we toasted to what was to come. We took many pictures with people we did not recognize the next day, but who seemed to be our best friends at the time. It was like a dream.

Twenty minutes after midnight, as we made our way back to the station, we did a quick check, and realized we made it through the event with our health and all of our possessions. There was no crime that night. No violence. No rudeness. For one night, the City That Never Sleeps became Utopia.

How was this possible? We can barely coexist with 12 other people in an elevator… how did a quarter-million people cram themselves into a three-block radius without bloodshed? Surely there had to be some definitive sociological explanation.

“They’re all drunk,” I thought. Certainly, the town was playing fast and loose with the open-container laws that night. Everyone held a bottle or flask, taking nips to ward off the chill. But, in retrospect, that reasoning doesn’t hold water. There are hundreds of bar fights every Saturday across America — 250,000 drunk people in the same place should, in reality, spell trouble.

But there was none. Sure, occasionally someone would lose their balance, become loud, or sing particularly off-key, but in general this was accepted with good-natured grace. For that night, we were unified as a society, enveloped in a sense of community and empathy.

Thinking back on that night, one specific incident has come to symbolize that feeling of harmony. As midnight approached, most of us had found places to stand to watch the ball drop. But many others were still scrambling to get the best view, or to regroup with friends. With the writhing mob, navigation was difficult, to say the least. We watched a man fight through the crowd with two bottles, finally settling behind us and handing a bottle to his companion. “I can’t believe that took 45 minutes!” he exclaimed. Not ten seconds later, an obviously intoxicated gentleman bumped into him, sending his newly acquired drink crashing to the ground.

His frustration was palpable. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped. He turned to face the clumsy drunkard…

It should be mentioned at this point that I have attended many sporting events in the New York area, and can tell you with complete certainty that beer-spilling is a capital offense within the city limits.

Therefore I was a bit surprised by the man’s reaction. Instead of reaching for the closest blunt object, he shrugged. And smiled.

That’s all it took — a shrug and a smile to diffuse a potential conflict. The simplest of gestures spoke volumes about man’s potential for tolerance and forgiveness.

So, this year, instead of dwelling on all the evils seemingly programmed into our genes, I choose instead to focus on my memories of that night, and the harmony that all 250,000 of us created together. Maybe we won’t end war this year. Maybe we won’t stamp out hate and bigotry. Maybe we won’t lead humanity down the road to enlightened coexistence.

But at least now, I know it’s possible.

                                                  

Copyright © January 2004  Rob Chiller and Low Carb Luxury




          

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