I was thinking about the city last night. It’s hard to remember the things outside of New York while you’re here—the city is your mental field of vision, plus a little bit. It might as well be everything since you can’t see the edges. So many things are so needlessly difficult in the city, and that extra friction builds in me to an axiety I’ve named “the haze.” Cow-eyed people on the train have the haze. Sometimes you need to shake it off, to pluck your mind out of the city to retain some sanity. Here is what I do:
- Find a song. Something you can listen to forever. Possibly this. Maybe that. Whatever song, it’s best if it could be classified as “woozy.”
- Grab your headphones, and put on the song. Repeat this one song. No other songs are allowed for a while. That song is a house, and you’re going to live in it.
- Go outside. Choose a direction.
- Walk. Thirty minutes minimum. An hour is best.
- Find your way home. Then, two Advil with water.
- Ten deep breaths. It will feel like the most indulgent thing you’ve done all day.
- Twenty minute nap. Use one of those sleep cycle apps so you don’t wake up feeling worse.
- Shower. In the shower, think about something methodical and relaxing. You are dicing celery. You are stacking cinder blocks and unstacking them.
- Then you put on the song again, one more time. A coda, or whatever.
The woozy walk takes about an hour and a half to two hours. If you cut out the nap (suggested, but not necessary), you can do all this on your lunch break. If you don’t feel better, sorry.
When you move to New York, people offer good, but base advice (don’t get on the empty train car!). Really, we all need to be reminded that New York is too much—it’s part of the appeal—but you’ll have to invent ways to cope, so your brain doesn’t become a tea bag that’s steeped too long.