When I first moved to NYC, back in the 90s, it took me a while to ease into the flow of that intoxicating city and not feel overwhelmed by its frenetic pace. One day, I found myself approaching the crosswalk on a crowded street, and soon became embedded in a huge cluster of pedestrians — professionals, shoppers, students — all apparently headed in my same direction. I trusted they were more in the NYC groove, so I let myself get pulled into their flow.
The herd's momentum carried me into the crosswalk and half-way across the busy intersection, when I suddenly glanced around, shocked to see three lanes of taxicabs barreling right toward me!
I'd become so swept up in the herd, I'd neglected to look up and check the light! WE WERE CROSSING AGAINST THE RED!
Those of us at the back of the pack quickened our pace and scurried to safely onto the sidewalk up ahead. I sometimes reflect on how that felt for me, those few precarious moments I went UNCONSCIOUSNESS. I'd allowed myself to become unbelievably susceptible to the momentum and behavior of a herd of strangers.
Yes, it’s common for clusters of people in the city to cross the street against the light; pedestrians can barely FIT onto the sidewalks between the busiest intersections. However, I often reference those brief moments as a reminder for me to stay observant and anchored in my truest, most present and authentic self.
It's all the more relevant for me today, especially when I observe how the polarizing effect of the news and the Internet's information highway can sway me to-and-fro — sometimes in directions I hadn't intended!