Surrounded by Lives
Visiting New York always jolts me. I become super conscious of all the lives unfolding around me, and though they’re all different from mine, I feel a universality with my fellow people. After all, many of us are focusing on the same basic goals: staying alive, protecting our families, celebrating milestones, earning a living, building community, and saving the world. “Sonder” from John Koenig’s The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows captures this awareness of other lives well, and one can’t help letting the imagination wander.
When I took a video of the bustle of Grand Central Station on July 5, 2015 at 2:35 pm, I noticed that the people who held still became more visible in the flow of movement. A solitary man in a white shirt, for instance, lifted his camera to a take a photo in my direction, as if we were tacitly connected through our lenses.
Most of us are usually moving in the stream of everyday life, blurring together, but we pause in our lives at certain milestone portals: weddings, funerals, births, graduations. Here, we can see such a moment in action, or rather, in stillness. If you look closely in the top left corner, a wedding couple stood in a streak of sunlight to have their picture taken.
Such a moment makes me want to move, and makes me want to stay still.