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Several weeks ago, Jeff & I traveled to New Jersey for a weekend to celebrate my brother-in-laws’ retirement. Quite the accomplishment! He retired at a young age and with 31 years of employment at the same company. Nicely done, Tim!IMG_1112

While in New Jersey in December and so close to “the City” as the natives refer to New York City, we decided to take the train into “the City” to see the lights. This would be only my second time into ‘the City” and at Christmas time…I was pretty excited. We grabbed my other brother-in-law, Mark, and headed to the train station. IMG_1125

Upon arriving we exited the train into a sea of people.  There were people everywhere, wall to wall, exiting the train into the station, which once in the station, the wall of people dissipated some. We grabbed a map of “the City” and made our way to the street.

IMG_1139More people. And buildings. Within the first five minutes, I noticed a man asleep on the sidewalk, huddled near the building with a box or two and a grocery cart full of his belongings near his feet. His head was covered with a newspaper or box and he slept on the sidewalk while thousands of people pass him by. Is he noticing the traffic around him? Can he sleep through it? Is anyone else noticing the man asleep on the street?

More people. And buildings. People moving quickly, weaving in and out of those moving slower, some in crowds, some alone…how could you tell someone was alone? They had earphones in. Walking through the streets of New York with earphones in, listening to an iPod or smart phone, absorbed in whatever was coming through the earpieces.

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More people. And buildings. We arrived at Rockefeller Center the lights were beautiful. The Christmas tree lit up with gorgeous lights and it was gorgeous. People everywhere. Most people polite, taking pictures, tourists (myself included, Jeff & Mark standing back grinning at me, the tourist taking pictures).

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After leaving Rockefeller Center we stopped at Radio City Hall, took a few more pictures – even one with Woody & Captain America for my grandson’s. Now it’s time to be on the look out for food. We took a left turn into even more people. We were walking ankle to ankle. We shuffled down the street and after a short shuffle found Alfredo, an Italian restaurant. It was a great option for dinner. The food was excellent, as was the service and actually, well priced for “the City”.  Dinner was my favorite time of the evening because we were honored to have the time with Mark.

More people. Yes, more people. As the night got later, there were more people. We ventured through Times Square back to Central Station to catch the train back to Jersey. As we entered Central Station, there were people milling around. Once the track was announced for our train, hundreds if not thousands of people rushed to the door to the track and funneled into a narrow door to get to the track. It was body to body, orderly, however, it felt like what I would imagine a cow feels like being corralled. We found our seats and had a quick and quiet train ride back to Jersey.IMG_1163

The evening was special. We have a memory that I will remember forever. People milling about, everyone with intention, some with more intensity and it was easy to identify the tourists. That would be anyone that stopped to take a photo every block, does not wear earphones and is moving slower than the traffic of people.

The natives with headsets are the people I see in my memory. They live in “the City” with millions of people and chose to isolate one self with earphones. Shut out to the world around them. Clearly withdrawing into their own thoughts.  Regardless of what “city you live in. How often do we as people intentionally put on “headsets”, isolating one self with “earphones”?

Are you engaged, aware of, invested in the people around you? Those you work with or volunteer with. Or how about those you live with? Are you more absorbed with yourself than others? Especially at this time of year with the long lists of things to do for a special Christmas season.

People do matter. Be intentional,  Don’t miss out on the most important part of this season. People matter.