Looking forward to Yin Yoga Flow with Eileen at Devotion’s Urban Sanctuary, I made my way on foot to the PATH station at Herald Square. It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon and I was running a little later than I wanted to but still had ample time to get to Hoboken. On the bonus side, the need for “a spring in my step” would assure a nice little walking workout as I ticked off the 40 blocks and 3 Avenues to the Jersey bound train.
Columbus Circle was buzzing at 4:00pm as I rounded my way onto Broadway at 59th Street. Completely forgetting that Broadway would run diagonally into 6th Avenue right near the PATH station, the “all around the mulberry bush GPS” in my head took over and I meandered through the streets and avenues inventing what I believed was the shortest distance between here and there.
Everything happens for a reason and it was no coincidence that I wasn’t intended to follow Broadway to my destination. I was intended to find this little gem of a location:
Yes, that’s right, it’s SIX AND A HALF AVENUE!
This was only the second time in my life that I’d bumped into 6 1/2 Avenue but, as happened the first time, I found myself laughing out loud. 6 and a HALF Avenue? I would love having an address like that. Imagine how funny it would be to tell people “Yes, that’s right, 6 and a half Avenue.” Seizing the moment for both a photo op and a writing seed, I snapped a few and started shaking the snow globe for some flakes of inspiration as I continued walking.
Given that our brains are hardwired along a negative bias (ultimately designed for protection), at first 6 1/2 Ave seemed the perfect metaphor for sitting on the fence; for being resigned to hiding in the in between and not fully jumping into things. And I thought, “That’s it! There are so many things I’ve not followed through on. I’ve lived most of my life on 6 ½ Avenue! I’ll write about always being “stuck.” I can’t stay on “7th Avenue” but it’s such a long, hard way to “6th Avenue.” Sooooo … Why not just stay here and hover on 6 and a half. Given how avenues can angle sometimes, maybe the distance to 6th will just become shorter somewhere and the journey will be easier.”
It’s fascinating how strong the pull toward negativity can be. At first, the concept of writing about a 6 ½ Avenue kind of life first appeared with a negative tinge manifesting as partially doing legwork but then sitting in limbo, waiting and/or hoping for the universe to magically deliver the rest of the journey or just giving up. With that thought, and once again, I was willing to minimize my whole life as being in the in-between rather than consciously acknowledge it as a fascinating journey of adventure. Why do I do that?
The good news is that, rather than immediately record or write my thoughts, I continued walking and “meditating” on and ON 6 and a half Avenue, allowing the ideas to play and broaden.
Meditation is a wondrous thing. One thing it can do is create spaciousness around an event. And as I walked and watched my thoughts, I started to see 6 ½ Avenue not as the metaphor for stalling an action but, rather, as a metaphor for the beauty of pausing in “the now.” Not being stuck but, rather, allowing for time to hover and just be. The wonderful balance between the past of being on 7th Avenue AND the possibility of things to come on 6th Avenue but not attending to either of them. Like hanging out in a great Warrior 2. That beautiful “space between;” the elusive gap between the thoughts. Bliss.
There I was barreling toward the PATH trying to “make good time” and not really paying attention to anything other than time and direction. I actually bumped into a former colleague and passed up the opportunity to chat a moment because I was in “such a hurry.” Then, just seeing this sign …
… forced me look up, pause and laugh out loud. Be present to opportunities.
And like that great Warrior 2 and our micro-minutes of really just being in the present, my stay on 6½ Avenue lasted one block. At 51st street I was forced, and ready, to turn east and continue toward Avenue of the Americas. But I took that present of presence with me with the intention to call on the 6 ½ avenue state of mind more often.
And to find Vivian so I can tell her that it was really great to see her in NYC, to apologize for not taking the time to stop and find out what she’s been up to.
Epilogue: Of course, I needed to find out a little more about this crazy little avenue. I know NOW that 6 ½ Avenue is a series of public pedestrian plazas stretching from West 51st to 57th Streets between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. The 6-block-long “avenue” is part of the Department of Transportation’s efforts to maximize the use and safety of the multiple public plazas that were created when the buildings were erected. These public plazas have served as shortcuts for pedestrians. Crosswalks connecting the pedestrian plazas are also in place.
6 1/2 Avenue … definitely a place worth re-visiting.