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New York City is just amazing. It is what I hoped it would be and more than I hoped it would be. The weather, besides the rainy day I arrived, has been nothing but blue skies and fall breezes. I’ve seen three Broadway shows so far and yes, I’ve eaten New York pizza. My apartment is cute and small and exactly what I needed. A fire truck and the street cleaner went by, squeezing down my tight street, during a zoom call yesterday and I just LIVED for the whole experience. THIS IS THE BIG CITY, YOU GUYS. I’ve had chips and guac with some of my best friends and ridden the subway with, so far, 100% accuracy as far as getting on the right trains and going the right direction (remember the 1 train goes both UPtown and DOWNtown, a fact I have to pause and think about before walking into any station). There’s an incredibly cute coffee shop just around the block from my apartment and an elementary school across the street. I sat outside the coffee shop and worked for a while yesterday, busy sidewalk in front of me, sun shining and warm, kids on the playground across the street. It’s what you see in the movies when you see a fall day in New York City. I’ve walked 10,000 steps every day… mostly on accident.
(If you are new to this podcast or this series, hi I’m Annie. I usually live in Nashville, but for the next two months, I’m living in New York City. This is the third episode in this series AFD in NYC. The first two are linked in the show notes below.)
About those 10,000 steps a day I’ve walked…
I went on a walk today in Central Park. I’m used to following paths from the many years my feet have hiked around Radnor Lake in Nashville, so this felt like a huge win. It’s less hilly here than in Nashville, so my plan was to walk and jog most of it to make it a proper workout. Doing that Couch to 5K program like it’s 2020 again.
Back to my walk in Central Park. I prepped for it, y’all. Last night I pulled up the map of the Central Park trails and I studied it for an embarrassing amount of time so that when I got out there today, I would just be able to go.
It didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. (Here’s the part where I insert the moment of tension, the problem, into the story that seemed to be going SO WELL, didn’t it?) I wanted to go out there to Central Park and get my workout in and come home. But at some point, maybe eight to ten minutes in, I realized that I wasn’t where I thought I should be. I didn’t know where I was exactly, but I knew enough to know I shouldn’t be seeing the statue I was standing beside. It was NOT on the trail I had studied and chosen. So instead of pulling up the static map I had gotten from a website, where all the paths are traced in different colors so one knows exactly which path one is on SUPPOSEDLY, the static map I had STUDIED, I opened up the map on my phone and sure enough, somewhere I had taken a left that I didn’t mean to take and I was far off the intended route. And the sentence that dropped in my brain was, “I wasn’t trying to learn something out here.” And I thought, “I wonder how long I’ll be learning what to do versus doing what I know.”
“I wasn’t trying to learn something out here.”
I think I’ve felt like I’ve been learning since I landed here last Saturday.
Learning my neighborhood.
Learning which key goes into which lock on my door.
Learning where the grocery store is and where things are in the grocery store.
Learning how to live on foot, without a car.
Learning how to live without a washer/dryer in my house.
Learning, learning, learning.
Learning the twisty and winding and overlapping paths of Central Park.
And as I retraced my steps out there, getting back on the way I intended, a question came to me, maybe from God?
“What if this whole season is about learning?”
Yeah, NO THANK YOU.
I don’t want to learn. I want to know.
I want to know where to get my nails done. I didn’t want to pass by five places and have decision paralysis and then suddenly just end up at one and hope for the best and when they asked if I wanted a shoulder massage of COURSE I did but is that normal around here or do all the other clients think I’m a sucker (or do they possibly think I’m brilliant)?
I ate at the same sandwich shop twice, two days in a row, not because I loved it, but because I knew it. It felt like, after a day of doing all things I’d never done before, it felt good to go back somewhere. And you know me! I don’t want to eat ANYWHERE twice when I’m only here for a few months.
I went to three places to buy new deodorant- finally finding it at the last place, two blocks from my house, and EXPENSIVE, only to annoyingly see it IN THE WINDOW of my neighborhood grocery store as I passed back by on my way home.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said, “Okay noted for the future.”
The wifi password at the coffee shop. Okay, noted.
Rosa doing my nails at the nail place because she SLAYED. Okay, noted.
The way I turn when I come up out of the subway station at 72nd street to get home. Okay, noted.
The right AND THE WRONG times to go to Trader Joe’s. Because the line to pay was, and I’m not exaggerating,100 people long, on Monday night.
Okay, noted. And still learning.
Learning. Not knowing.
But what if, what if I get through these two months, and I’ve just learned a ton and known very very little.
Someone asked me if I was settling in. I responded with, “I’m probably more adjusting than settling, but I hope the settling comes.”
It has, a little. And it is. And it will.
Ah but maybe that is the actual problem, isn’t it? I wanted to get here and live here, I wanted to have a day or two of learning and then two months of living. But what if the learning is the living?
I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of.
I’m not afraid of going to the wrong nail place or getting lost when I exit the subway station. I’m not afraid of those things because GUARANTEED those are going to happen.
I’m afraid that learning is costing me. Costing me what? I’m not sure. Time, fun, peace? I’m afraid I’m missing something great because of what I don’t know. I’m afraid this process is wasting my time.
And if you know me, you know I tend to always think the process is wasting my time. I hear myself.
And it’s probably early to start a definitive list of reasons God has allowed me to do this experience for the next few months, but this feels like its going to matter for a long time.
I’m realizing I’ve equated adjusting to learning.
And I’ve connected comfort and being settled to knowing.
Somewhere along the way, I told myself, “If you’re not comfortable, if it isn’t on your terms and in your control, it won’t be fun.”
Did I just do a whole essay episode to get here to the end and realize I’ve written a whole 1500 words about my control issues? Yes, yes I have.
But I’m learning. I’m trying.
What if this whole thing is about learning, not knowing? What if THIS is LIFE? What if the learning is the living? How much easier could this whole thing- I mean LIFE- be if I embraced the learning, the uncomfortable, the growth.
I’m trying. I’m unsettled and I’m uncomfortable and I’m totally fine. This isn’t a hardship compared to the state of the world. It’s just an observation for myself, and maybe for those of us who find control and comfort incredibly safe.
What if there is something holy and beautiful about making life about learning. I don’t FEEL that yet, but hilariously, somewhere deep in my guys, I know it.
Of all the things, THAT’S what I know? LOL why can’t I intrinsically know the paths at Central Park? Bless my heart.
As for the keys and the door, I think I’ve got it sorted. I say, “top round,” like the cut of meat. And then I put the rounded key in the top lock. So I guess there are a few things I know.
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What do you think? Please come share some thoughts and wisdom with me over on instagram- @thatsoundsfunpodcast … I’m all about learning now, remember? So I would love to learn from you if you have thoughts on this. And I’ll see you tomorrow here on That Sounds Fun.
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NYTimes bestselling Christian author, speaker, and host of the That Sounds Fun Podcast, Annie F. Downs shares with you some of her favorite things: new books, faith conversations, entertainers not to miss, and interviews with friends.
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