The Culture of the Cool

Coming back to New York, I noticed something. In that short period when the city felt foreign to me after spending all summer in India, I noticed that it was so easy to not care what people thought of me. In India, I was just a foreigner, and I knew that the only reason people would look at me was because I was different. In New York, as soon as I began to meet the glances and gazes of the people I would pass by on the street, the feeling in my mind was different. This was home (as far as being in America was home), this was the culture I grew up in, the culture I was familiar with. And at that moment, the culture of New York City became real to me. The culture of the cool. Where when people look at you you think “I wonder what they think of me.” And you also wonder about them. All the different ways that people dress, all the different ethnicities, the conversations they’re having–your mind is drawn to all sorts of thoughts. In India, everyone looked the same, everyone dressed the same. It was so easy not to be self-conscious. And it was easy not to have pride in myself. Here in New York, it is so difficult to escape this. You are constantly surrounded by people–and with each passing stimulation of your ego–it is hard not to think of yourself.

It was easy in the first few days back to stare at the ground, to avert my gaze and push pondering thoughts out of my mind, to focus on the Lord and His will for me, to concentrate on humility, to find quiet times to listen to the Spirit and submit myself to God’s Word. But now after only a week back in the city, I realize that living in New York City is like living in an offline version of YouTube. So many things draw your attention and distract you and your thoughts wander aimlessly.

I must fight against this. I must pray daily for humility and the reminder that without God’s grace, I am nothing but a worthless sinner.


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