Taking a closer look at what brings you inspiration.
When I moved to New York City almost eighteen years ago, it was the first time I lived in a major city. It was a massive change in lifestyle. Walking was the main mode of transportation, there were people just everywhere, not to mention in close proximity. Buildings, restaurants, parks and stores were the backdrop when walking down the street instead of houses and the green lawns of the suburbs. I loved the energy! It was thrilling, exhausting, my feet hurt, and I was starving all the time.
In the midst of all the change, I discovered something that was life-changing for me. The city provided a spontaneity that I’d never experienced before. Events just happened, I didn’t have to plan them. Beauty and magic randomly showed up.
One time I was meeting an editor in an area I hadn’t explored yet. I got out of the cab and I’d reached the destination about fifteen minutes early. I happened to pop out right where a magnificent cathedral was located, St. John the Divine. It was autumn with the trees in full color, and outside the cathedral was a meandering walkway with sculptures scattered about including a famous one called the Peace Fountain. It was fifteen minutes of pure delight and an unexpected stolen moment of fun.
Another time, I was taking the subway downtown and got onto the subway car and realized I was surrounded by exactly (I counted) fifty-five Santa Clauses and one reindeer. It was the early days of what is now called SantaCon which is a vastly popular bar crawl (that is now actually NOT a beloved day for us New Yorkers;-). When we got to the next stop, hundreds of Santa Clauses –and I—got off the train in merry style.
Once in the middle of a wet, dreary, slushy day in winter, I was clambering down into the subway station, freezing and damp, ready for a miserable day. When I got to the platform, a trio of an upright bass, drums and guitar started playing The Bittersweet Symphony of Life. Do you remember that song by The Verve? The violin part is very memorable and everyone started sharing small smiles as we began to realize the funny coincidence of the misery of the day mixed with the incredible beauty of the song.
The city gives me moments of unplanned inspiration. It makes me laugh, look around, and wonder. In short, it makes me soak up life a little bit better in those few minutes. In a time of life that is so full of details and balls in the air, I appreciate those reminders to breathe. It’s one reason my protagonist in the Art Deco Mysteries, Lane Sanders, is exceptional at soaking in life. I wanted to exemplify that part of the city through her.
I frequent the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one of the things I love best about it, is the way the architects used high ceilings and sky lights. It’s the same reason I love the vertical topography of the sparkling city. It is easy in all the busyness of life, to have tunnel vision and live on auto-pilot. But for me, New York reminds me to look up. To soak in the moment and appreciate that time. Everyone is different and it’s important to know how you are uniquely wired. Take a minute and think about it, because I’d love to hear!
What makes you stop, breathe, and look up in wonder?
I also think pets do this. There’s something about petting our doggos and kitties that is SO therapeutic. They help me just enjoy sitting down with them for a moment.
I love big cities too, but what really makes me look up in wonder is the incredible natural world we live in. Forests, trees, lakes, wildlife, moss on stones, dark clouds—nothing man made can ever touch the awesome beauty and symmetry of creation.