Who would've thought a late night trip to the top of the Empire State Building would teach me a valuable life lesson?
The time had come for me to embark on my first solo trip. New York City – a place I had only ever seen in movies and my favourite TV shows.
The experience of travelling by myself taught me multiple lessons about myself and the world around me, but there was one moment in particular that has since parked itself at the back of my mind.
It being my first trip to NYC, I had a huge bucket list of everything I wanted to see, do, and of course eat!
One of my absolute favourite things to do when visiting a new city, is to view the city’s skyline, so I saved going to the top of the Empire State Building for my last night in NYC, as a final hurrah before heading to Boston the next morning. Finally, a chance to see the famous skyline without there being a screen between my eyes and the city.
But as luck would (not) have it, it was the one night – out of a week of blissful sunshine and heat – that severe flash-flooding would strike!
Eventually, at about 10.30pm, it sounded like the heavy down-pour and thunder had subsided slightly, so I made my way as quickly as I could to the Empire State Building.
By the time I made it to the top, the rain was already coming down heavily again.
I made it onto the observation deck, as the thunder and lightening started again. So, instead of walking around the whole deck, taking it all in, I frantically tried to capture as many Instagramable photos as I could.
Having been on the deck for no longer than 30 seconds, the lightening started striking again and I was being ushered in by security. My spirits were definitely dampened…and the rest of me was completely drenched!
I was annoyed at myself for being more concerned with taking selfies on the way up to the top, and getting that 'perfect picture' when I finally made it out onto the deck, instead of taking in my surroundings with my own two eyes.
What was the point of finally coming all this way, just to take in the picturesque view through yet another camera lens? The magical moment I had waited years for had passed. I missed my opportunity of seeing the skyline without there being a screen between my eyes and the city, and was now faced with a screen of thick mist instead.
"Living in the present moment creates the experience of eternity" – Deepak Chopra
Now I’m not saying don’t take photos – anyone who knows me knows I’m always taking photos of everything. I’m saying, first take in the moment – fully; then take the photo.
Experience the moment first, and then capture it; because before you know it, the pure essence of the moment will have passed.
It’s like when you go to watch fireworks and you start taking videos of them because they’re just so magical. But rather than just watching them sparkle with your naked eye and absorbing the full experience surrounding you, you’re watching them through your phone screen, while recording, despite them physically being right above your head! And then – be honest with me – how many times do you actually go and watch the videos of fireworks you have on your phone?
I was determined not to leave NYC without seeing the skyline lit up at night. I was adamant that the torrential rain and lightening would stop, and the clouds surrounding us would clear. I ended up waiting two hours to see the long-awaited view that made my soul go ‘squeeee!’ (Though the photos don’t do it justice.)
I learned a valuable lesson that stormy night in New York, about the importance of being present. It’s one thing to capture a moment with a photo, but it’s a whole other sensation capturing a memory with your heart.
So when the opportunity presents itself, be sure to Seize the Daydream!