Opinion: Perpetual twilight


Commentary by Terry Anker

We found ourselves careening down the crowded streets of America’s largest city reviewing the events of the day – the nature of the incoming flight, the ease of traversing the Holland Tunnel, and, in course, our acquaintance with a new car service. Recommended for transport by a close friend and Manhattanite, we were impressed by the comportment and wayfinding of our driver. Snarled traffic would lead to a redirect, then another, until a more attractive path emerged.

Although the crystal-blue sky was glorious as the October sun cast its reflected light across the scores of gleaming edifices, we found ourselves headlong in a narrow canyon of oppressive brick structures. Built before the ubiquitous use of reinforced steel, these vintage buildings, while charming in many ways, hosted small windows open only to facing windows directly across the constricted street. Despite the ambient light spilling into the scene, the effect could best be described as dusk. The same might be said as afternoon turned to night, street lights illuminate ensuring that folks rooted here live lives wrapped in perpetual twilight.

If we dedicate ourselves only working to contain the extremes, what do we surrender? Are we humans prone to avoid change at the very same time that we benefit from it? Some moments lift us while others urge us to retreat. Does our obsessive need to control the world around us ensure atrophy in our ability to adapt when necessary and inevitable transformation appears? Does our hiding from dark and light make its existence any less real? Life brings both expected and unexpected seasons. The benefit of consistency is noted. But what is the merit in a command of adaptability? If we live in a place that is neither fully day nor fully night, can we ever hope to recognize the difference?


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