I’m wrapping up year 8 of living [for the most part] on my own in largish Northeast cities. Being mindful of one’s environment is an important virtue, and one that certainly relates to crime prevention and personal safety in a city. There will always be things outside of our control, but being aware usually goes a long way.
I credit both my cautious state of awareness, and sheer dumb luck, when I reflect, full of gratitude, that I have not been victimized during my time in the city (and I also frightfully scan my office for a piece of wood to knock on).
Yesterday I met a friend for dinner, and after we paid our bill and got ready to go our separate ways, she recounted the stories of a few friends who were recently attacked in the nearby area. Not an uncommon conversation over these last 8 years, and certainly a reminder to be careful. We cannot ignore possible threats.
At the same time, fear must be kept at bay. Watching the local news often leaves people psyched out in anxious states that can be quite contrary to mindfulness. We must be aware of our surroundings, but not paralyzed by fear. Danger lurks behind every corner of our lives, be it in the city or the suburbs. If the fear becomes to great to dismiss enough so that we enjoy the present moment, what should we do? Readjusting our habits can be good; maybe we start taking cabs more often, or not going out alone. We make choices all day, every day, and see how they play out.
Some of us choose to relocate. To a city, to a different city, to the suburbs, to the country. Each can offer some benefits to us the other cannot. I’ve been asking myself for the last 3 of my 8 city-dwelling years: do the benefits outweigh the costs? Is one better than the other [for me]? Which?
This has lead to cyclical thinking and provided no resolution, so here I am, embarking on another year in the land of the cheesesteak wiz wit’ (this translates into ordering a cheesesteak using Cheeze Wiz, with onions, for my non-local readers. For the record, do think such a meal choice barely counts as food, and I’ve found it more and more disgusting every day).
Where will my next adventure be? Will it be somewhere that feels like home? Or does my notion of “finding home” have roots too romanticized that I am missing out on the beauty of accepting what it means to be here, now (wherever that may be)?