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From the Vault

By Staff | Sep 4, 2015

Feb. 6, 1974

Another thing that depresses me is big crowds. I never return from a city like D.C. or L.A., but I feel as a prisoner must who has just been released from confinement.

It is hard for me to see when I am among thousands or millions that I matter at all- that any of the other millions matter either. It is a joy to come home. A sort of ‘reappraisal’ – the feeling or assurance that you matter to a few. To be sure, quite a number didn’t release you had gone, but many did. Nobody in L.A. or D.C. knew I left. The exceptions were the immediate family members whom we had visited.

To be sure, the big cities are wonderful in many ways. There is so much there to see and enjoy. But for me the price is too high.

– Frank Hornstein

Sept. 2, 2015

This is a rare point where me and Mr. Hornstein disagree. Where he finds large cities “depressing”, I find them comforting.

It starts out with two simple facts: no one knows you, and they might never know you. It’s reassuring to think that. Mostly because you could have a veil of personal space. It’s like there are so many people around you that it’s private. Everyone is trying to keep to themselves, and means that you are basically being ignored. If you wanted someone to know you, you could simply walk over to them and try to start a conversation. But, until that point, you are just a ghost. While at the same time you could change something for a person. It might sound incredibly ridiculous, but just imagine if you’ve had a horrid day and you overhear a sweet conversation, hear a musician playing in the street or on the subway, witness a first date or anything else that can make you smile. To me, a large city shows more opportunities to witness parts of life.

Of course, it does have its downsides. When you witness the bright and shining parts of life, you will also witness some of the dark and gritty. Maybe not as often, but there is still that chance to see a mugging or worse. And the sense of being a ghost could be a leading cause in feeling a less pleasant form of isolation. You can feel so alone surrounded by thousands, and maybe that was what Mr. Hornstein was experiencing.

I’m not saying cities are better than small towns, far from it actually. Both have their pros and cons. It is all just a matter of preference. With small towns, you can experience a closer community. You don’t need to be nearly as cautious walking around alone, and it is also more quiet and less polluted. And in a small town, there is the fact that it seems like everyone here already knows you. It is incredibly nice being around people you know, but they seem to know everything about you, sometimes before you even know yourself!

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