don’t be old

Hilariously true poem in the The New York Times by Steve Duenes, called How to Walk in New York City. Best line: Don’t be old.

The numbers refer to animated graphics, which you can see here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/04/23/magazine/how-to-walk-in-new-york.html

Don't break stride.

Don’t break stride.

Don’t text.

Don’t smile.

Don’t be injured.

Don’t break stride.

Don’t hum what’s in your headphones.

Walking in New York is not Mick Jagger. It is James Brown. The beat depends on the day and the hour and the borough and the street. In the Times Square subway station at 9 a.m. on a Monday, it is the opening drum sequence from “Hot for Teacher.”

Don’t touch anyone.1

Don’t bump elbows.

Don’t hold hands. 2

Don’t lose focus.

Don’t leer.

Even as you glide past a luminous stranger, the instant crushes that start and end as subway doors close are fleeting. There is a moment of stirring promise, and then there is only what could have been. Keep moving.

Don’t run.

Don’t hold hands.

Don’t look up at the buildings.3

Don’t say good morning.

Don’t eavesdrop.

Even if you are overhearing a man try to explain the resurrection to a business colleague from rural Japan on Fifth Avenue, don’t listen. Much. You might wander into the path of the M1 bus.

Don’t talk on your phone.

Don’t take pictures.

Don’t change lanes.

Don’t make eye contact.

Don’t step in it.

The idea of stopping at an intersection is a nonstarter. Jockey for position at the front of the group, slowly edging into the street as cars pass within inches of your knees. Never stop moving. Walk in an extended, single fluid motion, even at the deli, where your left hand delivers pre-counted cash to a clerk as the goods are swept up by your right.

The city stride can be triumphant, like the brief high of an athletic upset. If you win when the consequences of losing are steep, then your parade through the city can be like the opening credits of “Saturday Night Fever” — or like David Byrne dancing in that big suit. You may achieve an intense awareness that this moment might be IT. On most days, you’re paying the bills, searching for IT. IT is there, seemingly within your reach, but you can be distracted because New York is the trees and not the forest. It’s the scrum at the bar; the next 10 minutes; the bus that’s not braking or the lunatic shouting directly in your ear. Whatever IT is, you may find it in New York. You may earn it, you may bump into it, you may achieve it or win it by accident or coincidence, and when you do, you better revel in your victory because IT never lasts, and whatever it is — you will surely, ultimately, lose it.

Don’t be an obstacle.

Don’t be sick.

Don’t be old.

Don’t stop.

Don’t look back.

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