I went to New York City owing to either a yearning or an itch. Perhaps they’re the same though the former sounds like Romantic poetry and the latter doesn’t. In any event I wanted to go somewhere with my guide dog Caitlyn. In my guide dog using life I’ve been a vigorous walker in cities around the world. It felt like time to get back into the world after a year and a half at home.
There’s a song by Lou Reed which has the refrain: “it takes a bus load of faith to get by.” I’ve always liked Lou’s employment of “faith” which he offers with irony to be sure. A bus load of faith is a crowd’s worth of faith—we’ll get where we need to go without mishap and we’ll manage it because we all have the proper thoughts. That bus stays on the road with our collective magic. Faith is hard work.
I think this is why I like to take off and go places by myself. Or with just my dog for company. I feel the skin of my faith grow tighter. I step into the unfamiliar, alert to the mysteries of being alive and the sheer improbability of having a consciousness. I walk down Fifth Avenue and feel how provisionally alive I am and how lucky. And I often don’t know precisely where I’m going.
Walking around New York I thought of John Donne. It’s a hard life. Call faith what you will. Advance the flight.
My tender age in sorrow did beginne
And still with sicknesses and shame.
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Let me combine,
And feel thy victorie:
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.