Captivity

I think about the density of New York City: the hundreds of people I walk past each day, the close strangers I sit next to on the subway, the friendly eye contact I make with people. I wonder if that same friendliness is exchanged? With a quick glance, people make assumptions and within minutes, I become a piece of commentary. Recently I have witnessed the ignorance that has been held captive in the minds of the people around us. I say captive because there is a whole social psychology that makes people feel like they are a part of something, whether they are public or private about their opinions. The truth of the matter is: we are afraid of opposition and we strive to express ourselves.

When do we share? When do we finally speak up?

We share when our life or our dignity is at stake.

We share to potentially change someone’s opinion.

We share to make ourselves feel better.

Most of the time, we share when someone else shares first.

As a young adult in this society, I feel the sense of acceptance and openness for new ideas and change among my peers, but recently, I’ve received a reality check that leaves me with the question: how many steps we have taken aimlessly? Whether our steps are quick or slow, these steps don’t mean anything without the right direction. Without the right mindset or goal, we will continue to be held captive. Always stuck in the past or living for an idea of the future, when the present is in turmoil. With no direction, progress will just be another intangible thing and we will continue to be conformists in a world filled with ignorance.

I believe our mind is our most powerful force. It can break us down despite our physical strength, then give us all the encouragement we need to be okay again. Humans are not static creatures: our bodies and our minds are never quite at rest. Even in our sleep we are formulating thoughts and images. Our brains are albums that capture moments of joy and darkness in our lives and that is a beautiful thing, but we live in a world that is not at peace. Our defenses must always remain up because all ideas and personal expressions are not nurtured. It’s hard to feel safe when we don’t know what is on the minds of others. We live in a world where harm is not only physical and where we have to worry about captivity: in any shape, way or form.

-AJ

Love Affair with Lincoln Center

To go hide in a crowded city, the easiest spot is a place that is always filled. You will find those spaces every couple of blocks, but the ones that bring people in are the ones that people can change. A lot of spaces cannot be adaptable; they are designed to be controlled. On the other hand, there are some public architecture that are designed to be modified by the people who use it. They could be changed through activities or just occupancy. New York City has gems of Public spaces that are hiding between buildings that can be modified, but my heart belongs to the ever morphing Lincoln Center. I could probably list a thousand reasons why I love it so much but I think a few will suffice.

Ever since I started school, I had been in search of a place where I could go to find refuge. Maybe it’s the romantic in me who was looking for it or it could have been my need to get away from all the craziness without actually leaving. I tried hard to find a place that belonged to me for almost a year without having any luck. My first choice was the Riverside Park by 125th St., it has its charm with its pier and the rocks that give you privacy when you just want to ponder without disturbance, but the feeling wasn’t there. Second I thought, why not Central Park, it’s one of biggest public space that New York has and I can get lost there without anyone knowing. I would go there after class and sit on one of the higher rocks and read or sketch. It still wasn’t right. I could get the views but the feeling of loneliness was overpowering, even though that is what I was searching for. I felt pretentious just being there.

I kept looking; finally, one night, around midnight, when one of my best friends and I were tired of working on our projects decided to go for a walk in the freezing cold and ended up walking to Lincoln Center. There was no one there and it was pitch dark with one security guard standing under the awning. We giggled and kept walking towards the now turned off fountain. We climbed on the platform by it and just laid down and watched the stars. The feeling of cold went away and I felt at peace. This started my love affair with Lincoln Center.  The place has a welcoming feeling; it is like you are being called. It has abilities to transform in the morning and during different seasons. During the summer it’s at its happiest, the fountain pours out warm water and people are huddled against it watching as the water dances. The three different but coherent buildings that surround it look marvelous with their creamish white limestone which perform as enclosure and structure. The buildings serve as different performing halls functionally but as one they behave as a safety barrier that will protect you come rain or shine, literally. During Fall, this attitude is still prevalent with the colors changing to the brownish hues and the rustling of leaves, but it starts to die down as it gets colder. Which hasn’t stopped me from going there to rethink life.

I have had days when I am super happy and I just need a space to get that excitement out and I would go there, and I have had days when I just couldn’t talk to anyone I know and so I would go there. My best friend knows me and if she even suspects that I need to get away for some time, she would know to find me at Lincoln Center. There was an incident last fall when my best friend, A, needed to talk to me about something and it was super urgent but she had a class in 10 minutes. We still ended up going to Lincoln Center and sat by the fountain in the chilly breeze to decipher the situation and make some sense of it. We have had lots of moments like these but at this particular moment a stranger took a picture of us since we became silhouettes to his lens with the Space being the central element. It was a beautiful moment.

Lots of people have an attachment to Lincoln center as well. When I am just sitting there, people watching, (It is not a weird thing to do I promise, it’s actually a fun activity that can give insight to so many ideas and inspiration) I find so many ways people use Lincoln center and transform the space from just a designed object to a place with emotions. I have seen the fountain area being used as a tourist space, a lover’s nest, a resting place, and even a dancing studio. I have seen music videos being shot there. It is truly magical to see all the activity going on. At the same time when I sit there in the midst of all the noise, I am still at peace.

This feeling is a base for all the other emotions felt when in Lincoln Center. There is a backyard to the arena as well. At first look, it is a beautiful space with a canopy of trees surrounded by a brutalist performance hall on the right and an infinity pool on the left. Once you step inside the enclave, the feeling of motion sets in. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like I am travelling to a place where I can observe everything that everyone else is doing but I am not seen by anyone; it’s the feeling of invisibility in the most serene way. This whole area is mostly a quiet zone and I have seen people come here to chat with a friend, eat lunch, read a book, and study mostly, which are all activities that I have done there, but for me it’s a place to ponder. I have my craziest, quirkiest imaginations while sitting on the curved wire chair under the shade of the trees overlooking the pool or the linear concrete and glass building.

Throughout the two years that I have been going to Lincoln Center for solace, I fall in love with it more each time. My love affair with this place is for life and if you want to find me, you know where to look.

 

HS