I have come to the conclusion that living in NYC is like golf.
Admittedly, I am not an avid golfer, yet this analogy has been spinning around in my head for the past few weeks so I decided to entertain it.
I say that I am not an avid golfer, and this is true, but I have played the game. And that's exactly what I see NYC as - a game.
Bear with me here.
My Dad (an actual avid golfer) once told me a long time ago that playing golf is one of the most unnatural sports in terms of the physical positioning of your body and particularly, the swing itself.
When the analogy of 'NYC is like golf' kept playing in my head, I Google'd to see if there were any facts or quotes about golf being unnatural.
I found a couple, which was enough for me to know my Dad is not the only one who has had this sentiment about the golf swing being an unnatural motion.
Brad Faxon, an American professional golfer, and an eight-time PGA Tour winner, said "The golf swing is among the most stressful and unnatural acts in sports, (short of cheering for the Yankees)."
And Cindy Reid, author of, Get Yourself in Golf Shape: Exercise Drills to Build a Strong Swing...stated: "A good golf swing is not a 'natural' athletic move, like throwing a ball, or stroking a tennis forehand. In fact, a golf swing is one of the most unnatural motions in sports."
Like golf, NYC is one of the most unnatural ways to live that I have ever experienced. Actually, it is the most unnatural way that I have ever lived. And like golf, NYC is a complex beast, though may look simple - or even effortless to an onlooker.
Below I will make an effort to articulate the ways in which I believe golf is unnatural.
- You're in an outdoor setting (that is usually quite beautiful), yet you are getting from point A to point B via a golf cart rather than walking
- You have everything you need in a large bag, and proper shoes are essential
- In a straightforward definition of golf on Wikipedia, "In golf, players use clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible"
- Players are attempting to have the lowest score - that is get the ball in the hole in the lowest amount of strokes possible
- Most golf courses have 18 holes, yet some have 9 and can be played twice-through in order to have a full round of golf
- The stance. You're bowed at the waist, yet your back is straight and your shoulders are tall. Your feet are shoulder width apart yet your knees are slightly bent and the majority of your weight is on the balls of your feet and your left hip is slightly higher than your right. In what other life circumstance are you standing this way?
- The swing. You have to train your body to be able to properly set up for the swing. Which is actually a simple motion. However, that is not to say that it's easy. For anyone who has played the game, this unnatural way of standing and swinging, is quite challenging. And the stance is, of course, much more complex than I described - now add in positioning of your chin, feet, and gripping your hands around a titanium/steel/graphite club (aka iron or wood).
- While there is a long list of mechanics to the game golf, one is taking this club/rod and attempting to hit a small spherical (usually white) aerodynamic ball into a small hole off a tee (a tiny stationary support for the first stroke from each hole)
Cindy Reid goes on to say about setting up for the swing:
"Does anything about that sound 'easy?' Of course not. Everything about the golf swing fights your natural instincts. You hit down on the ball in order for it to go up. You swing the club right of the target in order for the ball to curve left. You must remove tension from your hands and arms in order to strike the ball harder and hit it farther. Pros stand tall while hitting a stationary object sitting on the ground, and they rotate their shoulders around a reasonably straight spine...But accomplished golfers have trained their bodies to create these unnatural motions...The golf swing is simple, but golf is the hardest game in the world at which to excel - much less, dare I say, master."
This quote beautifully sums up how I feel about living in New York City.
Let's break it down.
Nothing about living in New York City is easy. Everything about NYC fights your natural instincts. You ride the subway down in order to go up. You walk to the right of the person in order for the other person to move left in an ongoing game of move-out-of-the-fucking-way. You must remove tension from your hands and arms in order to work harder and go farther. Pros stand tall while hitting their keyboards riding on the subway, and they rotate their eyes around to watch for shady activity...But accomplished New Yorkers have trained their bodies (and minds) to create these unnatural acts...Living in NYC is simple, but NYC is the hardest city in the world at which to excel - much less, dare I say, master.
So to parallel the points I made about golf, below I will make an effort to articulate the ways in which I believe living in NYC is unnatural.
- You are in a city setting, yet you are getting from point A to point B via a subway, taxi, or bus rather than walking or driving your own car. Yes, New Yorkers do walk a lot but the 'daily commute' is typically via public transportation. To go 6 miles takes around 45 minutes - and that's if the trains are running on time.
- You carry everything you need in one or two large bags, and proper shoes for walking and getting disgusting are essential (and your other shoes are packed in one of your bags)
- New Yorkers take the least amount of trains with the least amount of stops possible. It's never a mere 'let's go get some groceries.' No, it's an entire event. Getting groceries depends upon the weather, which train station you'll hop on, if there are any transfers, and how many bags you can possibly carry on your person.
- New Yorkers attempt to live in the most idyllic numbers and boroughs as quickly and seamlessly as possible - that is get into the best borough in the least amount of moves possible
- Most boroughs have your own neighborhood cafe, market, and park, yet some have 2 or 3 and can be frequented all in the same day in order to have a full day of quintessential NY
- You walk half of a block to pick up your coffee, then go down some stairs to wait for a subway that will take you to another part of the city. If your in rush hour, then you are standing there with your life on your shoulder (or back), coffee in hand, headphones plugged in blasting your most zen music, and trying to read your book, twitter feed, or local paper. On the pole that is keeping you upright, your hand is crammed up against another person's that you don't know and let's face it - probably don't want to know. And your trying to not think about how your leg is crammed up against someone's knee. In what other life circumstance are you standing this way?
- You have to train your body and your mind to be able to properly set up for the swing of the NYC lifestyle. Which is actually simple. However, that is not to say that it's easy. For anyone who has played the game of NY, this unnatural way of living and not breathing, is quite challenging. And the life is, of course, much more complex than I described - now add in trying to breath in fresh air, make friends, and get to any sort of nature that is not contaminated by destruction or pollution.
- While there is a long list of the ins-and-outs to New York life, one is taking their body and mind and attempting to 'make it' amongst all of the others that have the same goal with a slightly different purpose. Trying to get their very own and uniquely shaped ball off a tee and into a corner office - in the least amount of years - with their favorite market down below and park in view so that they can get a glimpse of the natural world while they work incessantly in the unnatural.
Perhaps there is a reason why I am not an avid golfer or a 'true' New Yorker. But, I am grateful to have tried them both so that I can feel that much more belonging in my natural state - and in the natural world.
Not a New Yorker, tee'ing off for the next fairway