What lies below the surface

24 Dec

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour the Eastside Access, which is a huge public works project, building tunnels 120 feet below the surface in order to move people in and out of Manhattan.  It won’t actually be open until 2019.  I was able to visit as part of my work, since one end of the tunnel is behind my organization’s building, thus as part of a courtesy of having to deal with blastings and the whole building shaking on occasion, we get a tour on occasion.

The tour itself wasn’t all that exciting – I mean, you’ve seen one tunnel, you’ve seen them all.  Or something like that…


BUT – it was pretty amazing to see this huge tunnel UNDERNEATH THE STREETS OF NYC.


The man kept saying that they tunnel celing was not holding up the buildings, that the street did that.  But….  I’m no engineer, but doesn’t the street hold up the buildings, and the tunnel hold up the street, so therefore…  ergo, the tunnel holds up the buildings?  Am I right, or am I right?!


Well…  apparently not, according to mr. fancy-pants tour guide.

Oh, and we got to wear safety glasses, safety vests and hard hats.  Always a good time.

But, what I was most struck by is – how much must lie below the surface of this city that I have no idea is there.  No idea what lies below the surface.


 I’ve been thinking a lot about what lies below our surface.  What is below what we see every day.

I spend a lot of time on the subway – Brooklyn to Long Island City, Brooklyn to Washington Heights, Brooklyn to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn to Lower East Side.  And that’s just for work.  Some people ride the subway in their own world, listening to their devices, plugged in-tuned out.  But me?  Oh, I’m that people-watcher.  Listening to conversations (sometimes known as eaves-dropping).  Spending lots of time listening, watching and seeing what is on the surface.  But do I really know what is going on?

Like all good New Yorkers, I have a therapist.  We spend lots of time figuring out what’s below my surface, things I haven’t wanted to look at.  Ever.  Gah, it’s that ugly, private stuff…. But there we are, exploring that.  Turns out I am full of cracks and far from perfect (I know that, but I don’t want anyone else to know).  There’s that whole – those-who-live-in-glass-houses-should-not-throw-rocks-bullcrap.  Whatever…..

And for most of my life, I have looked at others and judged them at face value.  Mostly this has happened with friends of mine who I think are pretty rad, and I think – wow, their lives must be pretty perfect.  Look at them in their great job, their great relationship, their great family.


And then….when you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

I sat with a friend a few weeks ago who told me tales of her father being an alcoholic.  Functional, but still….  And then another friend told me of her mother just not being part of her life from an early age.  These are friends who I envy their lives – their relationships, their jobs, their happiness.

Turns out, none of us have a perfect life.


‘There’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in’

-Leonard Cohen

So, I’m learning to go slowly.  To try to figure out what’s below the surface in others, in me, before I judge.

Or maybe….  Just let go of judging all together and just let the cracks be – because they let the light in.

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