Never Done: Went to Greenwood Cemetery
Woody Allen said that "showing up is 80% of life."
I was determined to go to Greenwood Cemetery. I had tried earlier in the week, but found the gate close to my house locked. I had an over-scheduled and emotionally challenging day, with a meeting with a smart young filmmaker smack dab in the middle of it, but I was determined to get some exercise and some time outside, so I left an extra hour to go walking in Greenwood. I got to the gate. Locked. The sign redirected me to 5th Avenue, which is only 5 long blocks away, so I set off. At 7th Ave, the cemetery no longer followed the road I was on (20th St.) so I took a left until I came to the edge of the cemetery again, at 23th Street. At 6th Ave, the same thing again, so I took a left until I came to the edge again, at 24th Street. I know this is a lot of dull, geographical detail, but the point is that every time I came to a crossroads where I saw that getting to the cemetery was longer and further than I thought it would be, I almost turned around and saved it for another day when I would have more time. It's like it's when you're out running (I don't know if this happens to other people) and suddenly you realize you are walking -- and you try to figure out why you stopped, because you feel like your body could still be running, and you realize you had been thinking about something difficult, and without even noticing, you had stopped running because of a negative thought.
This was like that, only I was aware of the decision point -- every time the road turned away from the block I was on, I had to actively choose to persist. And it wasn't even a hard walk; it was nice outside, and I wanted to go to the cemetery, but with every turn, I felt my 1 PM meeting time getting closer and closer, and I felt like it was just not worth it to go all this way for the short amount of time I would have in the cemetery, but each time the road turned away, I chose to follow it, so I could just get inside that cemetery. So I turned down 24th Street, and finally came to 5th Avenue, and could see the entrance from where I was. The entrance was more ornate than I had imagined -- and the commercial bread baking smell from Aladdin Bakers wafted over. I walked under the historic gate (is that a gate? It's more like an ornate entrance) and was inside. And it was already 12:35 -- time to turn around and walk back. But I didn't. I walked in further, and up onto a little hill with a brilliant yellow tree on top of it, and I stood looking over the cemetery, and the beautiful old graves and mausoleums. And then I looked down at the ornamental cobblestone work right in front of me. And then I looked out again, over North Brooklyn and to the Manhattan skyline. And just when I was about to leave to get to my meeting on time, I got a phone call from a friend who knew things are a little hard right now, and who wanted to make sure that I had a place to go for Thanksgiving. It was like an embrace reaching over from Manhattan, over North Brooklyn, over the graves and mausoleums, through the yellow leaves, and right to me, on that hillock, reminding me that it's OK to be overwhelmed, and that people are paying attention. And I sat down on the hillock, and I had a good cry. And then I looked around and promised myself I would come back to spend many more hours exploring the rest of the cemetery, and I set off on my way.
As Woody said, showing up is 80% of life, but you also have to show up for the other 20%.