25 November 2019
TO: CB Family
FROM: Francesco Clark,
Do you ever sit at a restaurant and look at couples and wonder what they have in common? If they were to walk in separately, would you have guessed that they’d chose to sit next to each other? And as you ponder, you start to notice how similar they are, how in-tune each one is with the other, deep in conversation.
I’m usually in New York when I’m people-watching - I’ve lived here most of my life. It’s a very special place with a certain duality of feeling; an intimately familiar neighborhood can be at the same time, in that same familiar place, excitingly new. There’s this constant pull towards an endless discovery here. That’s what makes it so beautiful to me; I can roll along the same streets I’ve known since 5th grade and not know one person I see. So many storefronts and buildings changing facades over the years and with every season. New York is always evolving and yet if you live here you know, it’s also always the same.
But perhaps there’s more to this acknowledgment. Perhaps it’s more about having a perspective of how little we might know as adults - the more we age, the more delighted we are in knowing we have so much more to learn, more friends to make, more cultures to explore. It keeps life exciting and light-hearted to stop and talk to a complete stranger and see how similar you are in actually being different. It reminds me of Einstein: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
For me, Thanksgiving is a day of connecting with more intention. Most of us are planning the day to be with our close families, people we see fairly often and know so well. But in thinking back on how much has changed in my own life from last Thanksgiving to this one, I realize the enormity of everything I have to be thankful for. It’s not as if one huge event happened, but more so many little, small good things, that suddenly make life feel...really, really great. My family is growing, work is growing, friends feel more settled in their lives, and all I am noticing the most is how much I want to experience those few, dynamic connections the most, all while feeling the limiting effects of time.
It’s thoroughly enjoying being ‘schooled’ on my nephew’s high-school chemistry learnings, for example, not because I like playing the fool, but more because it’s remarkable to see someone learn and have a passion about something. The exercise becomes less about you being right or wrong, but just listening and interacting, growing a rapport. Understanding the person I’m speaking with peaks my curiosity, because then I can connect to the way they reason.
And as we plan and enjoy our meal, understanding why each one of us is at the table gives us a window into accepting that they want to spend time with us, as different as we may seem to the stranger who saw us walk in separately just a couple of minutes earlier.