These pictures were taking during a fall tandem bike ride across the Hudson last year. We rode from Greenwich Village to Harlem and back, and the sites reaffirmed that the Hudson River underneath the fall sun is among New York’s most breathtaking experiences.
In several of my previous posts, I’ve detailed at length those ethereal, remarkable moments in my travels that have redefined for me the notion of beauty. Standing on top of the Temple of Poseidon as the sun set, hiking to the summit of Sugarloaf in Rio to be greeted by a panorama of city lights celebrating the spirit of life, admiring the Chicago skyline at night immersed in legendary rap…the locales have, for the most part, been distant and exotic. But yesterday, as I was walking back to my dorm located just a block away from the Hudson, I stopped in complete awe and for the hundredth time in my life told my self: “This is the most beautiful sight I have ever witnessed.”
The Hudson River is truly one of the most consistently striking landmarks I’ve seen. This is my second year in New York City, and I still find myself at the water’s harbors at least three or four times a week for its never-ending gift of experience. The Hudson is a continually metamorphosing entity. On one morning it grips the entire universe and its imagery of awakening in its dynamic strokes of water and air. It becomes a living spiritual relationship between human and city, city and nature, nature and infinite. That very afternoon, it becomes that helicopter shot from every single movie ever set in New York. The boats, the daytime city scape, the runners and the mothers and the mothers who are runners all embracing, whether consciously or not, their role in the fabric of a breathtaking cosmopolitan dream. And at night, the Hudson becomes the iconic dance of twinkling lights from every building in the greatest city on earth, all of it together reflecting off the serene waters below. The pattern becomes routine, after some time. But never unremarkable.
I’ve seen glorious Hudson sunsets many a time. But yesterday, as I stood on Greenwich Street in the West Village and saw the blazing red sun dangle between two restaurants and send fierce spears of light through the narrow streets in front of me, I was living magic. There was something so mesmerizing about the colors and movement of light that I didn’t understand. I had seen this so many times before. Why was it so overwhelming now?
And then, after pacing back and forth for almost half an hour and watching the sun rays propagate and diminish with my subtle motions, it hit me. For the first time, I was seeing the sun set in the tightest linear space I had ever seen it from before. This massive ball of red, orange, and yellow was literally like a shot from the all-time greatest “Circle of Life” intro sequence in the Lion King. The sun was proportionally larger than everything else in view, consummating all of the New York in my vision with stripes of beautiful soft and punching hard light. I’ve never seen the sun like this, so immense, almighty, holding the entire world in its palms.
Yesterday, it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. That perception will, undoubtedly, continually reconstruct itself the more I witness as I move. But what I took away from that spellbinding Hudson sunset was something more than the sight itself. It was knowing that an image I’d seen so many times, almost every single day, had suddenly on one random occasion become something else altogether. This wisdom is revelatory. I know that I can find renewed beauty in what has seemingly become mundane. As long as I keep looking and believing.