Thursday, January 28, 2016

Stop and Smell The Roses

I’m currently taking a certification class to teach ESL in the US or in other countries (that’s why there hasn’t been much activity on here lately). After my class the other night, I was chatting with one of my practice students about our best and worst experiences while living in NYC.

She told me her best experience happened while walking to her train and hearing someone play, “the most beautiful sounds a piano could ever make.” She said she followed the music and was led to a man playing his keyboard in the middle of the busyness that is Penn Station. She listened to the man play for a while and then struck up a conversation with him. They ended up going for coffee that same evening and she has continued to visit the piano player at least once a week. She said they have developed a great friendship and she looks forward to the great conversation he provides.

My heart was warmed as I listened to my student. I was in awe of her story for several reasons. The main reason being because my student is fairly new to NYC; she came directly from Ecuador. And for her to have such a regard for the piano player that she would make it a point to talk to him really stood out to me. I remember when I first visited NYC in 2010, I too was in awe of some of the talents that were displayed on subway platforms and on subways. But since living here, I have become like all other New Yorkers, and past those people straight, without even looking at them or listening to the talent they are sharing.

It’s not that I feel a certain way about them, it’s that I’m too self-absorbed. I am so wrapped up in what I’m doing, where I’m going, and what I need to do once I get where I’m going; I never, ever take the time to stop and listen to the piano players, watch the artists, or listen to the poets. 

NYC does something to people. This city motivates and can propel you in to directions you never considered. But on the flip side, NYC can harden you. I shared this with my student. And I told her to hold on to who she is and not to let the city change her perspective on how she meets new people. I also told her she was brave for doing something so out of the norm by not only talking to the piano player, but by also establishing a friendship with him. 

Her confidence to do that is something I know nothing about. It’s never been in me to start up conversations with random people, which is why I hate small talk… But my student’s story reminded me that even though NYC can harden you, it also has so much to offer. And I have to remember to take advantage (not in a bad way, of course) of the great people who live in my city. I have to remind myself to step out of my box and embrace the fact that I live in one of the best cities in the world.

There are so many people around us, regardless of where we live, that can impart something wonderful into our lives. We have to remember to stop and smell the roses. Stop and listen to the piano player, and stop and enjoy the small things that we love; you never know what may come out of it.

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