Concrete Jungle

Large cities around the world often seem like a phenomenal accomplishment for mankind and may give a high moral booster to the country that possesses a big city. A large city is often the center of attention for the wealthy individual and may give them something to brag about when they visit other countries. Cities appear to offer us safety, support and companionship, but do they really?
Although large cities are usually the center of economy and communities of people, they also have endless worldly pleasures and other commodities that cannot easily be found anywhere else. It is also the center of corruption and false senses of security. Where people are often insensitive to one another, where greed is the driving factor of the fellow citizen, and necessity leads thousands to danger and violence. Cities are concrete jungles where the strongest defeats the weakest and the biggest devours the smallest.
I have visited several cities during most of my adult life; New York, Miami, Washington DC, Buffalo, Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto and yet I’ve never been surrounded by so many people and still feel so lonely. I was living in New York city with a population of 8.31 million citizens, a resident of The United States of America with a growing 301.2 million inhabitants and in a world of over six billion human beings. And yet, New York City may not as well even be there because it’s just like being lost in the amazon jungle all alone. It is interesting that “ I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.” (Robin Williams).
Prior to my United States residency, I was living in the town I grew up in called Tocoa Colon, Honduras, eating Baleadas (ba-lay-a-das), hanging out with my friends every afternoon and talking in a language I understood. Having the confidence of what the world had to offer was mine for the taking. But after six months of arriving in the U.S.A, I found myself lost and homeless in the middle of New York city and unable to speak English to communicate. How did this happen, you may ask?..well, that will be a topic for another blog.
Walking in the middle of downtown Manhattan wearing a red baseball hat with the visor looking backward, a shirt with cool artwork in the front, long shorts that fell below my knees and a nice pair of special edition Timberland boots. I looked all the way old school Yankee style, with everything newly purchased. Anyone could have thought I was a born American with the only difference being that I didn’t speak English.
After hours of walking around the city looking for a job, I felt tired. My body and mind were aware of the reality I was in but not fully accepting it, like as if I was in some sort of survival mode, compressing all my feelings and numbing my emotions; trying to be strong to overcome the difficult situation I was in. I sat down on a rock that looked like it was placed there for decoration. I couldn’t help but notice everything that was going on around me. I saw people from all regions of the world, heard languages I’ve never heard before. And everyone there had their own set of problems fighting their own personal war, just like I was. The only difference is I felt like I knew of and had something they didn’t have and that although I was physically alone, I felt like God was with me thanks to my Godly upbringing.
I was watching and thinking that most people were fighting their battles alone. My heart broke for them because in some regard the vast majority of people looked more miserable than I did. People were going on about their daily business, paying no attention to what was happening around them. They would smile at me without looking like they really meant it. Like a fake mannequin smile, dry and without life. They almost didn’t look human. Same as a dumb autonomous robot with skin and no eyes or ears to see or hear. I found myself around dozens of what looked to be like hostile people, going so fast to their destinations as if their life literally depended on it. The noise of engines going back and forth as cars, motorcycles, buses, trucks and any other motorized vehicle you can think of were passing by. Making so much noise that it startled me many times. And everywhere I looked, I saw buildings big and small that looked like they were going to fall on you. Structures with complex geometry and precise structural dimensions to decorate and hold together a building. There were so many buildings one after the other in all directions as far as the eye can see. A jungle of concrete full of numb creatures and streets with complicated traffic systems divided into lanes managed by state government laws, and traffic lights and signs reinforced by police. All I could think of in that moment was the magical place I grew up where myth and legend mix together. A town that if you were a kid growing up in any of the US cities or any other developed country and you came to my town for a visit, you wouldn’t want to go back. Now Tocoa is considered not so safe to live but back when I grew up it was the best place you could be.
I wanted to go back but I knew that Honduras wasn’t the place for me to grow economically. That gave me the determination I needed, so I told myself I was going to solve this problem and I was going to excel in the United States of America. Sitting on that rock I continuted contemplating my situation and how was I going to solve it. Hundreds of ideas came rushing through my head comparing them and weighting them to my situation, battling and tempting me internally. Out of the setting, I felt as everyone else around me; numb to everything. And I started to think about myself and how I was going to make money to get out of the condition I was in. I began to consider joining a gang and even selling drugs crossed through my mind briefly. I thought about it long and hard but the Godly teachings seeded in me from my upbringings kept me strong in my belief in God and it didn’t allow me to do any illegal activity. With the help of God and after many obstacles, I am now a Network & Systems Administrator working in the suburbs of New York.
Large cities are amazing to see and to visit once in a while. However, personally I prefer to not live in a large city. Because people look trapped in a lifestyle where “Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened and debased by the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers, the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and shops, the everlasting suggestion of advertising and propaganda. The whole mechanism of modern life is geared for a flight from God and from the spirit into the wilderness of neurosis.” (Thomas Merton). Today I prefer a quiet small town or a separate piece of land away from all the drama and chaos, but one thing is for sure; I will never forget that day lost and confused in the city of New York and how God never let go of my hand, not even for a second. God protected me from the city’s predators and kept me away from being devoured by a system created to benefit only certain groups of people and one that is hostile to people that don’t look or act like the selected few.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *