• Sarah Bialkin

To give you a piece of my mind, I, in turn, lose my mind

In New York City, people are presented with many obstacles. I see so many New Yorkers and tourists alike get pounded with verbal attacks. People blame the noise in NY on taxis, protesters, and sirens. In reality, the "noise of the city" enters through apartment front doors first.

The flavors of NY can be tasted on the tongue, but the sounds of the city are carried by the lips. People choose how to nourish themselves. I only wish that the same amount of care can be thought of in terms of speech. Most are familiar with phrases like: "You want a piece of me?" or "Let me give you a piece of my mind!" While yelling at absolute strangers can be thrilling and empowering, I wonder if the spent energy is worth the immediate power trip. I've always been the kind of person to breathe stress away rather than vocalize it. I meditate on phrases like: "It's not worth it" and "Don't let it bother you."

Recently, I had to think my way through a very frustrating incident. I was on the crosstown M79 going to a voice lesson on the Upper West Side. The bus was jammed with people. My purse was slipping on my shoulder and when I readjusted it my elbow bumped a guy behind me. I audibly said "Oops!" expecting the guy to acknowledge this and move on. But about 10 seconds later, the guy turned around towards me and yelled, "You f*cking think you can just f*cking hit people you *sshole!" I wanted to turn around and tell him to relax and that it was just an accident and he didn't have to be so rude and aggressive! Instead, I inhaled sharply and slowly exhaled trying to stay composed. About two cycles of inhale/exhale later, I chuckled at the thought of this unfortunate guy suffering from touretts. Instead of expending energy on furthering a ridiculous engagement with this guy, I found humor in the situation.

I wonder how much of a gentler city New York would be if others chose to not engage. Maybe more people would return from a hard day of work without collapsing on the couch but instead have a happier expression at the close of the day.

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