A couple of months ago, Andy Tsai wrote a blog titled, "Take Memories, Not Pictures." To somewhat expound on that, here are some thoughts I have on my NYC trip and traveling in general, to serve as a possible antithesis against myself and others when posting photos on social media.
The Firsts of New York City
Last weekend, I escaped Baltimore for the first time this summer and traveled to New York City. I took my first class @ BDC, saw my first sunset on The High Line, visited Times Square for the first time in my life, experienced my first Pokemon stampede @ Madison Square Park, ate my first ramen burger, and the firsts go on. Some firsts that are less proud to openly acknowledge. When I went to "Sons of Thunder" and ordered my first ever bowl of Poke, I got a "look" from Aurora Jin for mispronouncing /poʊˈkeɪ/ as /pōk/. Instead of riding the NYC transit, I naively tried running every block around Manhattan, and I learned from the tendonitis I've developed for the first time in my calves that Manhattan != Baltimore...clearly. The ~20-30 blocks I sprinted in 20 minutes from Greenwich Village to make Ian Eastwood's masters class @ BDC was probably the most exhausting thing I've ever ran in my life, even worse than my freshman year intercession hospital visit. It seems like every time I explore a new city, my inner cross-country itch goes wild - taking me to places I've never explored, and hospitals I never planned on visiting. Lastly, a first police encounter. Apparently, I looked like a "troubled youth on the run" for sitting on the ground in the middle of Port Authority, and when I told them I was just trying to find Wi-Fi, I got another "look" and was silently guided to the Starbucks that was just one floor below. Understatement of the century, but I'm a very inexperienced New Yorker.
They say that traveling is one of the few luxuries you can buy that can enrich your life, and to some degree I guess that is true. You can buy the food, the plane ticket, the access to the culture, and the camera to take all your photos, but you can't really buy the camaraderie and interactions you have with other people that help elevate your critical thinking beyond basic introspection. No one man can try and become an island, and like a connectome/graphical model of a patient with Alzheimer's, it's strange how even when you're standing on the highest mountain or staring at a sunset with the widest horizon, the absence of just a couple people and your connections to them can still obliterate your own presence in the moment. Maybe it was the sunset I saw on The High Line that dwarfed my presence, but sometimes that moment is so enormous the only way to truly appreciate the beauty and singularity of what is unfolding before you is to share it with someone else. As independent as people want to become, as independent as I want to feel in grinding for hours away on research papers and problem sets, ambitions and values are only as withstanding as the people you surround yourself with that influence your plasticity, and a feeling of significance and purpose is only ever properly realized when we have a link to something bigger than ourselves - like family, a promise between childhood friends, a dance group, a religious community, a company we work for, a research lab that we contribute to, the school and major we represent, mankind, God. Maybe I'm thinking about it all too much, but in trying to capture what I liked so much about my last weekend of the summer, again, it wasn't so much about the time and place in particular, but the camaraderie I've developed and went on this grand adventure with.
Maybe just one more first, but this was the first time I traveled to New York with friEnds. For all of the memorable firsts I had on my NYC trip, I didn't have time to take that many pictures other than the occasional Snapstory, and I'm glad I didn't. My only regret is that I didn't create enough intentional, singular memories with my familE on this trip. I've been repeating a dime-a-dozen aphorisms as of late, but if I'm allowed another pithy quote, “a journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” I wouldn't have minded if we spent that weekend barhopping in Fell's Point or chilling on Kyoung-a Cho's couch; as long as it was something unique that would add as a beautiful memory to our lives, as every experience, regardless of its breadth or its environment, has the power to shape our lives in incredibly ways. All it really needs is the right people to come together, and I couldn't ask for a better familE. Being in NYC for just a weekend really humbled me and helped me gain better understanding of what I value, and I wanted to write a post to show appreciation to Kyoung-a Cho, Elli Tian, Tony Melo, Victoria Lui, Vanessa Phuong, Bryan Li, and Elizabeth Hawkes for letting me come up with them. Anytime someone creates and spends time with you, it really is a privilege. Traveling is healthy, but it's important to measure yourself not by the places you've explored or the pictures you've taken, but the moments of integrity you discover with other people and build for yourself so you can live closer by your ideas and ideals.
 abalabazn's Blog @ GitBooks: Take Memories, Not Pictures. https://abalabazn.gitbooks.io/blog/content/take_memories,_not_pictures.html. Accessed: 2016-09-06.