A New York State of Mind

Last month, my daughter Claire and I took our first Girls’ Trip to New York City. We shopped, practiced at Jivamukti Yoga School, took in the sights, dined shoulder to shoulder with strangers (who soon became friends) in sidewalk cafes. And, of course, we took in a show.

photo 2-1Admittedly, I cringed at the thought of sitting through the “New York Spring Spectacular” at Radio City Music Hall…. I’m certainly no theatre sophisticate, but even I envisioned it too tourist-trap one off; too predictable (yes, he gets the girl, a totally unnecessary plot thread, IMO); too Disneyesque.

But I had a 9 year old to entertain – one who loves song and dance numbers – so what better answer than The Rockettes?

Sure, there were some serious cheeseball moments with leads Derek Hough, Laura Benanti et al; the presence of 3-D glasses and light up wrist bands for the audience being a big one … but the show’s storyline of a human NYC tour guide being replaced by an ipad, a pair of earbuds and a virtual Avatar seriously hit home.

Do you notice how fast we – in our collective human existence – are spinning day after day? Our once baseline experience of real human connection and presence in everyday tasks has sped up exponentially. Technology is bombarding us with constant stimulation and the collective expectation that we will respond with equal speed.

There is so much being lost.

We are disengaging from the natural world.    We stare at screens more than we look into the faces of loved ones.  The same morning of the show, at the Museum of Natural History on 79th Street, Claire beelined for the digital interactive screen on the fourth floor Dinosaur Exhibit, failing to notice that there was a REAL, 65 million year old Triceratops skeleton hovering overhead.

It was as if, in the face of a screen, the real thing wasn’t even an option to consider.

The theme of the Rockettes’ show was totally timely; I’ve definitely noticed myself surfing the trend of relying on technology and devices for entertainment & intimacy. In doing so, I’m also feeling the effects of becoming distanced from community.  And it’s just so soul crushing tragic and lonely.

We know the speed at which life is moving is not going to slow down. But we can make a choice to live consciously. As we discussed in our 200 Hour Teacher Training last weekend, there’s immense power in choosing to make a commitment to conscious being.

Feel connection. Resist turning away from pain and doubt. Today, walk barefoot on the earth.  Take a conscious breath.  Look into the eyes of the person next to you.

Do you need help with this? Consider joining Heather, Janell and myself for our annual summer retreat to Breitenbush Hot Springs. Here, you’ll feel what it’s like to unplug (literally, no wifi or cell reception), sleep soundly and feel present. You’ll spend five days and four nights practicing yoga, eating healthy food, hiking in the old-growth forest and soaking in the hot springs. After filling your tank with peace and yoga, we think you’ll feel renewed and recharged, and when you come home you will be in a very good mood.

And the Rockettes? They were fabulous, of course. But the real gems were subtle, and followed right along the theme of the show:

My daughter, totally rapt and sitting on the edge of her seat, watching live humans perform, as opposed to the typical, plugged into a solitary experience of a 6″ wide ipad.
  • Her incredulous realization that there was an actual orchestra accompaniment…. playing real time music.
  • “Oh my gosh, mom, there are a LOT of people here for this show.” (6,000, we later learned).
  • The connection and energy of shared experience with the audience; you could feel the happiness of a Friday night out in the city.
The iconic art-deco lobby; it’s as if we’ve stepped back in time. And the ladies’ room… complete with the foot paddle hand dryers and the sitting lounge.
  • Man, the history. A couple of times I was moved to silly tears at the thought of the collective joy experienced in that very theater over the past 80 years.

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