“The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.”
― John Updike
It’s far too rare of a thing these days to stop and enjoy the moments around you. The pace of all of our lives seems to be speeding up to the point that most of us barely notice the faces of the people we pass by day after day. I’ve argued for years that living in New York was some of the friendliest people I’d ever been around. It’s a different kind of friendly for sure, but the people there really do love their city and tend to be really interesting to talk to. Spend about 5 minutes in the subways or on the sidewalks in New York and you’ll notice just how detached people have become. You’ll sit next to a person who looks completely normal, who you might have a million things in common with for 45 minutes and never say a word. Headphones are as much a part of New York culture as the Yankees these days and as much as most of the country would love to compartmentalize this city I genuinely think this is the direction we are all headed. We all have 5000 friends on Facebook, whats the point in making one for a few short minutes on your commute to work? My point here is pretty simple, if we would take the time to see the faces, hear the stories, and shake the hands of the people around us I think we would be surprised at how much joy can come from those moments. Mix our alienation in general with the fact that so much of Christian culture in the US is shy about our beliefs and you’ve got a recipe to spend your life largely alone wondering if anybody outside of Sunday morning believes what you do. I know this is a rant - but there’s a point here. And that point is fairly profound for it being pretty direct.
As Delyn and I got into Brooklyn and dropped our bags and most of our wedding day gear off at the hotel we packed out just enough equipment for street photos, comfortable shoes, and took off to Manhattan. It was Delyn’s first day in New York and I didn’t want him to spend the day underground so we decided to walk the Brooklyn Bridge into the city and see what we could find to take photos of. About half way down the bridge there was one of a thousand couples taking selfies and photos of each other, but this one seemed different. First off, the woman seemed like she knew what she was doing, and secondly her husband was jumping from a pushup position into the air while she shot photos of him looking like he was flying through the bridge. To be fair, I am a basket case in NY. I love this city so much and loved my time living here so much that I spend most of my time wide eyed trying to sponge up as much culture as I can, but Delyn spotted these two right off the bat and had already asked if he could also take the flying photo before I knew what was going on. It’s amazing what happens when you just make that first move - but we were immediately so blessed by the attitude these two have for life. There’s a spark you see in a kind Christian couple that’s hard to put your finger on unless you’re always on the look for it - but these two had it. And when we found out that Michelle was a wedding photographer in LA, and Kelly is an Emcee, DJ, and speaker we couldn’t help but just stop and chat for a few minutes. Not sure if I would call this a God thing, or just a coincidence but Michelle and Kelly had gotten all dressed and ready that morning for a photoshoot on the Brooklyn Bridge that got canceled last minute. Not knowing a thing about us or our work, these two were kind enough to accept as we offered to take a few quick shots with them and we all instantly clicked. So neat to meet a couple likeminded people so randomly and for as much fun as we had walking, climbing, and shooting the streets of New York I can say that this 45 minutes with Kelly and Michelle were my highlight of the trip pre-wedding. I’m amazed at the way stories like this affect me. So many people that follow us seem to think that these travels and adventures are all a result of our photos but I’d disagree. Of course I would hope that my work and my art inspires and excites our clients, but its really a love of relationship and people that drives me. Its meeting kind faces and big smiles and hearing them sprinkle God into the conversation. Its seeing the way people who live thousands of miles away from each other can meet in a city thousands of miles from home and in a few short moments connect, bring a little joy, and then say goodbye. I hope to stay in touch with Kelly and Michelle but my point isn’t to say that these run-ins result in life long friendships - in fact, though I’m so glad we met, I’m not sure we will ever see each other again. Thats not the point. The pain is, we weren’t “suggested friends”; Facebook didn’t play match maker. We were just willing to say hello. Take sometime to pull your headphones out, put your phones away, and make eye contact today. You’ll be amazed at how cool the people next to you are.