A Story for the Season … & All Seasons

I can’t shake this story from my mind and, considering the season and everything that is going on, I must share it.

I recently visited a doctor in New York City for a follow-up to an earlier consultation. Not unexpectedly, there were patients sitting in the waiting room so I knew it might be a while before I was seen. I always have a book with me for such situations.

As I read, I happened to glance up and notice across from me a younger (30-something, I’m guessing) woman slumped sideways in her chair, obviously dozing. I continued reading but my attention turned to the young woman again when my doctor unexpectedly emerged from the back and approached her, quietly calling her name. The young woman did not react; she was “out cold.” The doctor, realizing the woman was deeply asleep, walked over to her, reached down and gently took each of the woman’s hands in her own. She did not pull or poke. She massaged them gently while speaking softly to the woman. This did the job of waking her, and, after a few moments to collect herself, they walked together into the back, the doctor asking her some question I didn’t catch.

I sat there for several minutes, reflecting on what I had seen. I was moved by it in ways I didn’t, and still don’t completely, understand. The power of witnessing the simple gesture of care and sensitivity took me by surprise. Then, my turn came; I went back, visited with a nurse to take the required “vitals” and waited in a room to see the doctor who came in very shortly.

After some small talk, I told her that I had witnessed what she had done, how gently and sweetly she had awakened the young woman. The doctor responded with “I’ve known her for years and she’s very special.” I said, “you are special, doctor. Doctors generally don’t do what you did.” She thanked me, somewhat embarrassed, I suspect, and we moved on.

I still often think about that simple gesture of kindness that, in most other circumstances I have witnessed over the years, would have been treated quite differently. The way my doctor chose to awaken her patient has stayed with me as an extraordinary example of how natural kindness can work with remarkable power. As I reflect on the scene, as vivid to me like it just happened, and as the holidays come on, it stands in vivid contrast to our national political life that is dominated by rancor, conflict and fear. We’re all trying to experience the holidays in a good way, and likely most of us will succeed in the end. And ‘will’ is the right word, because it feels more like an act of will than a natural thing to do at this time of year.

Part of the power of the doctor’s act was, I think, that it was so natural, so spontaneous. I am virtually certain she did not mull it over first; she just naturally reacted to the situation with humanity and compassion. That young lady is lucky, as am I, to have a doctor with such instincts for kindness. It’s a lesson we all need to learn and re-learn, especially when the times we live in are so burdened with acrimony and lack of concern for those in need of a helping hand. I suspect I will always have that image in my mind and hope to remain aware and grateful for its reminder of what is possible.

New York Holiday Lights

New York City can be a magical place at times and the winter holidays are one of those. Last week we visited the shopping district on Fifth Avenue and walked to the Rockefeller Center to view the large Christmas Tree that, according to the ever reliable Wikipedia, a tradition dating to 1933. The same source says that about 125 million people visit the tree every year. A large percentage of them were there the night we dropped by. You can see some of them in the photos that follow.

We also viewed many of the decorated windows and exterior decor in some of New York’s “finest” stores..Those picture follow as well last set of photos are the illuminated “stars” that hand in the atrium of the Time Warner Shops at Columbus Circle and periodically change color. I hope that in these troubled times these photos will spread a bit of joy.

The last photo is of the socks that I absolutely do not want to own and will not wear under any circumstances so fuggedabowdit.

 

Mystery Mandarin Duck in Central Park

Some time back a Mandarin Duck mysteriously appeared in Central Park, joining the other ducks in the Duck Pond and attracting hordes of photographers and others crowding the shore to see him. He is an extraordinary creature and my wife and I were fortunate to see him up close today. At first he was far away under a bridge but then swam straight to the gaggle of photographers near us and then swam right up to where we were standing. No one knows how he came to be in the park but he/she is likely the most popular visitor this year and maybe ever.

A Trip to the Zoo

Central Park has a zoo of its own. It’s not the largest zoo around these parts, but it’s pretty interesting that such a place exists in the center of New York City. Last week we visited the place, camera in hand. The bird house and the snow leopards were probably the most interesting, the place was fun throughout. You can do the whole thing in an hour easily with time for a snack in the shop on the premises. Here are some photos. If you go, be aware that the birds in particular are very active so don’t stand around under them for long. If you know what I mean, and I’m sure you do.

PS- the bird in the featured photo at the top is a pidgeon.