Travel Log: NYC
In April, I invited you all to follow me on my journey to Ireland through tinyworldtravels, not yet knowing where that journey would lead and how much God would share. This is the beginning of a new journey. I am currently coming off the end of 13 insanely busy months of grad school and leading a mission trip to Ireland where God was breaking some serious ground in freedom and capturing hearts. As the next steps of this radical journey unfold, I want to continue to extend these stories of God’s redemptive love by maintaining this online community. Whether we share the same faith or not, I invite you to share this journey with me. I will share deeper stories of learning and growth, and also basic fun tips or tales from the various places I go. Wherever I end up traveling this year.
It is an interesting time of life; I am doing most of my traveling independently and am growing stronger in that independence and interdependence as I find places to serve. While I am often physically alone I am being led spiritually. My life is indeed in the mercy of a mighty God who sustains me and provides at all times, even when all I need is to rest nestled into Him. The big story I follow is usually, what is God teaching me today and where should I go now? Lately He’s been leading me into joy and freedom, and that comes partly from living out what Christ calls us to. Love God, love others, right? It’s so simple, yet so all encompassing.
As I neared the end of a recent weeklong stay in NYC (visiting friends) I had been making daily treks to Washington Square Park to people watch. I had the afternoons to myself so I did a lot of exploring, which often involved food and coffee and smiling at strangers. There is a coffee bar near WSP is called Think Coffee, which I visited recently to read a book as a friend read through a healthy stack of plays for his acting classes. Somehow the city was a surprisingly restful amidst the chaos.
I was explaining to the aforementioned friend that, when I visit places I like to pretend that I live there. In essence, it is basically just that simple, I explore and get in the mindset of what it would be like to live there daily. This helps me connect with the community. It also makes the experience more real and much more fun. It seems to bring a feeling of home with me, since it’s my home for now, no matter how temporary. Ultimately, it brings joy and is another intricate thread in God’s redemption story. How so? I thought I would list below some ways that you can really be at home wherever you are. These are really small things to do to bring some joy and freedom to the communities in which you find yourself. Feel free to add comments and suggest other ideas as well!
1. Befriend Locals
You don’t have to move in with the neighbors or anything but being polite and having conversation will open up a world of possibility in your journey. First of all, who knows the best deals and events or where the best bagels are besides the people who’ve lived there longer. Not to mention that it gives you good insight into the culture of the area and how to avoid common wandering mistakes. As an added bonus, you get to make new friends and have people to spend time with or visit. Added bonus is visiting old friends!
2. Smile and Say Hello
Simple enough, and can have a big impact on the community you are residing in, whether in your original home town or the place you’re living in for a few days. If you are a more free-spirited traveler who goes where the wind takes them, I am with you 100%. In this case, you can simply offer smiles and a genuine “Hi, how are you today?” You seriously never know when someone needs that, and usually it is ALWAYS.
Ex. I said this to a worker at Starbucks and he stopped, looked at me, and said, “Thank you. No one has talked to me at all since I got to work today.” Seriously? There’s power in acknowledgement alone. You matter. You are significant. That’s what smiles and “hello”s say.
Get a good look at the general direction you are heading, streets and turns, and head out. If you need the comfort of a map, keep it on you, but try not to look at it! Just take your time and wander toward your destination. WRITE DOWN places you pass that you want to go back to or just STOP IN to places that look interesting. You DO NOT have to buy a banana sesame muffin just because you wandered into a bakery, …but if you were wondering, it was delicious. The best part about wandering is stumbling upon new places and people, in which case you can refer back to #s 1 and 2.
4. Don’t Ask
Disclaimer: If you are lost or in danger, definitely ask someone what is up. However, stumbling upon places or finally finding your way or realizing that you know what area of town you are walking through is really refreshing. That is, of course, unless you realize you are miles or blocks from your intended destination, in which case you can refer back to 1-3.
5. Research Your City
Especially in cities where there are a lot of things going on, you can do searches and find free events and/or purchase cheap tickets to just about anything. For this particular trip my friends and I used Event Brite to search for fun things happening in the city.
While it can be fun for planners to research ahead of time there is also something to be said about what you find while wandering. On a walk to Chelsea Piers to read my book, with planning for a fun Saturday in the city in the back of my mind, I stumbled upon $5 an hour bike rentals. I then proceeded to find that Chelsea Piers has miles of bike trails! Wandering SUCCESS!
It is important when wandering (AKA “living” in your new city), to do so in a fresh and excited way, with an air of childlike wonder, or else the fun gets killed pretty quickly. This is especially true in a city like Manhattan where the common daily persona can tend to be rather rushed and solitary. It may be easy to get frustrated when things don’t go according to plan, but breathe easy. Just be free to be where you are!
**I hereby solemnly swear to maintain this blog for this entire year; my distaste for repetition and routine aside. We’ll see where this road takes me and see what amazing things God has in store! I will share tips I come across in my travels, photos, and stories of miraculous things. Will you stay along for the journey?