By Bivás Biswas
The general idea about people living in big cities is that they’re mean, they don’t care, they aren’t as compassionate. They don’t have time for other people. They’re full of themselves and are superficial. Many adjectives! I spent my early childhood in Calcutta, one of the largest cities in India, and I now feel a strange connection to L.A.
Does L.A. change people? Fast life, not enough time, lots of dreams, so expensive! The poor, the middle class, and the rich co-exist. Living the contrast is a part of life. The dream of the middle class is to get to where the rich are, and their fear is the guy on the sidewalk, by the freeway, holding a sign. You can lose everything if you fail to keep up with the rat race.
Dating is a nightmare. Exposing vulnerability becomes a game of one step forward, two steps back. It is like some futuristic Japanese deadlock. The person who bowed first had their head chopped off, so now people are standoffish.
More people are into yoga. More people are into wellness. Juicing is a trend. Kale is selling out of the organic shelves. Vegetarianism. Love for animals sometimes exceeds love for people. There’s a raging war between the sexes. More people are into more of everything.
The system runs on a tightrope: you miss a beat and you miss a class, miss a show, miss a meeting, get fired, miss lunch, miss putting in an extra quarter and get a parking ticket.
What can you do? Here are five ways to find peace in the big city:
- Breathe! How is your breathing right now? Keep reminding yourself that smiling is still good for your health and psyche. Doing a little of what you love everyday is good for your mood. Splashing water on your face and letting the water soak into your pores. The towel pressed against your face smells good and feels warm – hold it there a little longer. Sing in the shower. Sing in your car. Don’t hum, belt it out. Join a comedy class. Learn something new, a new instrument. Pick up the guitar, strum a chord.
- Believe the best in people even when you can’t see it. Take the first step. Practice giving something to someone everyday! A bottle of water, a smile, a burger, an insight. Share knowledge. If you can’t help the energy drainers, get away from them until you know how to deal with them.
- Practice mindfulness. Look at the cars around you in traffic, their colors, if they got a wash lately. What are the plates saying? The good thing about traffic is that everyone is trying to move forward. No one gets on the road to just park their car and blast the radio and have a smoke. So there is a common goal. Albeit some people are in no particular hurry so they let the others in. If you’re stuck behind one of these kind, know that they’d let you in too, it’s not their fault you’re stuck behind them. And the ones who are cutting in…well, they’re idiots! Move on!
- Be vulnerable. Experience hurt. The best part of living in a big city is there are many different kinds of people. You’re going to run into the worst parts of yourself and the best parts of yourself. There is usually a lesson in every experience even if it is not the greatest. Annoying but true! Pain is therapy. In every struggle there is an opportunity for growth. When there is no struggle there is no growth!
- Remind yourself to be aware of the little things! A big city has lots of little things! The florist hosing down the sidewalk in front of the store. The barista hanging little lanterns on the tree outside the coffee shop as the sun goes down. Little theaters where struggling artists put up their shows. Old couples walking down the sidewalk at quarter the normal pace of life around them. Sometimes they have to literally think about the next step. See yourself as part of the life around them from their point of view. Look at the different kinds of trees!
The smell of jasmine in the evening. The cracked pavements. The neon lights, the pools of lights and long shadows. And of course the wonderful southern California weather to walk down to the neighborhood grocery store just to enjoy the evening breeze. Hiking and the beach, the city from the mountain top and lessons from the ocean…that’s a whole other blog.
The bigger the city, the smaller it feels. Maybe I’ll see you in traffic! Stay well.
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Bivás has had a successful career as a Software Engineer/Consultant for 13 years. He worked as a Computer Scientist on U.S. Defense projects through Honeywell Aerospace. Besides engineering, he is a filmmaker and an actor, has co-produced and directed a feature film called PARANOIA and has helped finance 3 others. As an actor, he has appeared in many independent features including a HBO mini-documentary and a series for the Discovery Channel. He is originally from Calcutta, India.
Originally published on Bivás’ blog, 24FramesLater.
Photo sourced http://jimmillersworld.com