The New York City Kool-aid
Lord Have Mercy
Several years ago, my aunt and uncle from Florida were visiting New York City for a dentistry convention. As the keynote speaker, my uncle did not have time to meet for a meal, so instead I them both in their room at the Hilton on 6th Avenue and 53rd Street. Given my uncle’s status at the convention, they were given a suite on a high floor of the hotel. When I arrived at their room, it was the middle of the afternoon and the curtains were closed as though they had never been opened. My uncle was typing on his laptop and my aunt was lounging on the couch in the living room area. After some small talk, I asked if they would like me to open the shades. They both agreed it would be nice to allow some natural light into the room. I opened the shades and quickly realized that the view they had was nothing short of amazing. This was the angels singing, lord have mercy, dead on view of Central Park that so many New Yorkers are obsessed with. I implored my aunt and uncle to have a look out the window and they both obliged for about 7 seconds. I was perplexed. How could they be so ambivalent about this amazing view? Sure they were from Florida, but wasn’t this view beautiful enough to transcend a State of origin?
After much careful thought, I realized that the Central Park view is not coveted by New Yorkers purely because of its beauty, but also for what it represents. In most cases, to have this view is to have achieved a high level of success. Whether it be from a fancy hotel room or a penthouse on Central Park West, this view is mainly viewed by the rich and successful. As a renowned dentist and keynote speaker at this convention, my uncle was no exception. It all fit, except that he didn’t care about the view at all.
Much the way that a college student might work a little harder so that she can someday own a Porsche, I have found that many New Yorkers use the Central Park view as the inspiration they need to put in long hours with a smile. They think “someday I’ll have a Central Park view and I’ll have really made it.”
Obviously, everyone has their own concept of “making it” so it should have come as no surprise that my uncle did not care about the view. Maybe he had always wanted a house with a pool or maybe he had always wanted to own a boat? I’m not sure what kept him motivated to achieve success, but it certainly was not that Central Park view.
“These are the dreams I’ll dream instead.” Annie Lennox
My uncle’s indifference allowed me to ask the tough question of “why do I care about the view?” You see, it had never occurred to me to not care about the view. All I knew was that I liked the view, most New Yorkers I knew wanted the view, and therefore it would be stupendous to have this view that I liked and (seemingly) everyone wanted. I had absolutely drank the Kool-aid.
But did I want the view or just the status that goes along with that view. Much the way that some people long for the status of owning a boat or a Porsche, having a Central Park view makes you part of an exclusive club where you can guarantee that scores of people will envy you. A guarantee of envy is a powerful position to be in.
This post is a general message to my readers who may be killing themselves with long hours to guarantee that someday people will envy them. My message is not to work less hard or to shun all material possessions. Rather, it is to understand from the start whether its the Porsche that you are after, or the jealousy of others. As for me, it never occurred to me that someone would have the chutzpah to not care about the Central Park view. My uncle’s audacity has opened my eyes and allowed me to regurgitate the New York City Kool-aid. Why do I someday need to possess that Central Park view? I don’t. Maybe you don’t either.
Bright Lights, Big Glass of Kool-aid.