Misperception of the City that Never Sleeps

Have you ever taken pieces of information, formulated an opinion, and later discovered you were terribly wrong?

My youngest daughter, Ana, and I recently returned from our first visit to New York City. The Big Apple. Brooke and Doug, my oldest daughter and son-in-law, moved there a short time ago due to new opportunities in their careers.

(Ana, Doug, Brooke)

As a parent, it was comforting to see the Brooklyn neighborhood where the couple found a small, but nice and comfortable place to live. One evening we strolled down the path through a park at the water’s edge. The city, brightly lit, just lay across the way. Families were out with strollers. Kids happily skipped along. Masters walked their dogs. It felt friendly. It felt safe.

Brooke and Doug had already found their way around using the subway and knew the layout of the city. As we walked the streets they pointed out Trump Tower, Radio City Music Hall, and the studios where the Today Show and Good Morning America are broadcast. We stood in Times Square and visited Rockefeller Center. Theatres where famous actors currently played displayed colorful billboards – a sensory overload. There was so much to take in.

I was struck by how wrong my preconceived ideas had been of how the city would look, feel, and sound.

Through movies and television, we see walls filled with graffiti, homeless people laying in alleys, and an overwhelming sense of crowding and noise.

I didn’t experience any of that.

The city was clean and beautiful. Many people cruised the sidewalks, but not the amount I expected. There wasn’t even a great deal of noise. Possibly due to signs like this one!

And then we stepped into Central Park. I had no idea! From everything I’d seen through various mediums, I expected the park to be a huge green lawn with scattered trees and paths for bikers and runners. Central Park blew me away. It was like stepping into another world that would take you a day to explore. Lush, thick vegetation filled the park and massive trees shaded the visitors from the hot sun. Bridges spanned bodies of water. Horse drawn carriages provided interest with bright colors and romantic appeal.

I know there are areas in New York that are dirty and ugly. Areas that are filled with crime and hurting people. But reality is that the entire city is not.

It’s so easy for us to have misperceptions about not only places, but people. We’re told one thing and we believe it instead of checking out the facts. We look at a man living on the streets and we think we have him all figured out.

But if we take the time to look closer, maybe—just possibly—we’ll see something quite different. Something quite amazing. Look at the Susan Boyle phenomenon. She stepped out onto a stage and people laughed. She opened her mouth and sang, and the world took notice.

Take time to look for good and beauty in your surroundings—but even more in the people you meet.


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