So yesterday was my birthday 🙂
And I’ll tell you what…if there’s one thing I took away from the day, aside from how special friends and loved ones are, it’s how infinitely beautiful and diverse the culture is in NYC.
Indulge me for a moment.
Yesterday was one of those days that literally goes on forever. I kid you not, I think I saw just about every walk of life in one afternoon.
My friend and I went to The Cloisters – which is a monastery-turned MET art gallery way up in Washington Heights, where we heard probably 5 different languages from the myriad of European tourists taking in our *culture.*
The rest of the day consisted of a walk through The Bronx, getting lost in Spanish Harlem, happy hour at a Puerto Rican bar in Harlem, dinner at an uppity/cross-fit/health nut/vegan place downtown in Greenwich Village, drinks at a sports bar in midtown, and finally, a nightcap with a celebrity chef we randomly met from Spain at a speakeasy in the Financial District.
So. Much. Culture.
It’s safe to say that by the end of the day…my feet hurt.
But there was one moment yesterday that really stood out to me.
It happened when my friend and I were strolling through the Bronx. And for a girl who rarely goes above 14th Street in the Village, being up in 160’s/170’s was a far cry from home.
But one fun fact about me, is that during the first couple years that I lived in the city, I was the lead singer of a latin cover band.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “But…you’re not…”
I KNOW, people.
However, I have seven years of spanish under my belt, and I have an uncanny ear for accents. (Maybe it was all the practice I had as a kid doing weird accents around the house.)
But I digress.
Anywho – as a result of this little musical endeavor, I know all of the latin hits.
So walking through the Bronx yesterday, past all the open air hooka bars with sidewalk seating, blasting the latest latin hits; or the Barber shops and Beauty Parlors where there were groups of ladies or gentlemen congregated outside around a boom box, my ears were having a nostalgic field day.
And as we were walking by one of those barber shops, my all time favorite song came on, called Carnival.
I started singing it to myself, and did a little dance/walk/shoulder thing because…I am *that* cool.
And all of a sudden, this little old man, all of about 5’4″, comes over and starts dancing with me to this Latin hit, surprised that I knew the words. And he was smiling this big, toothy grin -albeit missing several teeth. But we just had this beautiful moment of joy, dancing to the same music. We didn’t speak the same language, but we did speak music. We did speak joy.
That connection was just so genuine and pure.
Riding the subway back down the 150 blocks or so — for 45 minutes — I couldn’t help but think about that frail, little old man.
And I know this sounds cheesy, but I kept thinking about God in him.
I hate to admit it, but from the outside, this man was not someone I would have typically sought out to interact with. I mean, his clothes were worn and dirty, I don’t think he had showered in a couple days. And I mean…I’m big on dental hygiene. But dancing with him – even for just that 8 second chorus – there was such a beautiful light that radiated from him.
That was God inside of him. That was the inherent worth and value and beauty that all of us possess, simply for being made in His image, reflecting His light.
But how many times have I missed opportunities like that, simply because I’ve been deterred by the outside packaging?
Sure, maybe not a spontaneous dance sequence that legit looked like it could have come out of a scene of some Spanish-version of Grease. But what kinds of meaningful connections have I passed by, simply because I was too focused on the outside, or too wrapped up in myself, or my iPhone?
God is all around us. Within us. Sometimes you just have to look past the rough exterior.
@beauty.beyond.bones – Instagram
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