I don’t know how often people get the feeling of “I was meant to be here today” but this was exactly what happened to me two weekends back when I decided to spend my birthday in Manhattan. To be honest, I’ve had this kind of feeling before but there were times when I wondered what exactly I was doing in Manhattan. Although I kept visiting random places of interest while making plans on the fly, I never really had any concrete plan. It seemed aimless but yet ended in the culmination of that very wonderful feeling I just spoke of.
Prior to the weekend, my only aim was to do something special for my birthday which happened to fall on Saturday. As there wasn’t anything special going on in Lehigh, I turned to my old haunt Manhattan (I’m in love with the city!) and found something known as the ‘New York Festival of Lights’ (NYFOL). The festival of lights (Not ‘Diwali’) started in Lyon in 1999 and other names such as Berlin and Bangkok have since hosted this annual event. The New York version is the result of a crowdfunding platform called ‘Kickstarter’ and the first edition was so popular that it had to be shutdown prematurely due to huge crowds. Sounded like the perfect plan, right? Coincidentally, one of my friends was also celebrating his birthday in NYC and he nicely invited me to tag along with him and a few others.
The festival turned out to be good and was a crowd puller just as the reports had promised. More than the show, it was what I started seeing around me that was the major highlight. It started off with an installation piece about love at the festival. From then on, everything around me had something to do with love. Be it billboards, random couples, jazz songs from the 40s at Bryant Park; it seemed to be there in all forms. This would all make a bit more sense to me only on the following day.
Making it to the next day in NYC however, was dependent on me finding a place to stay for the night. I was minutes away from catching the last bus back to Lehigh and yet I had the option of rendezvousing with the very same friends that I came with. Logically, it made sense to catch the bus but I didn’t want my birthday to end on a damp squib. Suddenly, I had a change of heart and took the metro to lower Manhattan. I somehow ended up staying the night in an El Salvadorian couple’s house who were very generous and considerate in letting me spend the night at their place.
The Interstellar Connection
The following evening I planned to watch ‘Interstellar’ and yet I didn’t particularly feel like it. I had gone ice skating and visited a host of places at random, in the city. A slightly exhausted feeling mixed with the wait for a potentially long and intense movie hardly seemed like the best scenario. Also, the thought of watching a movie alone wasn’t the most appealing with a friend unable to make it. Something told me to watch the movie though. While the movie didn’t initially appear to be worth the wait, my decision to watch the movie was vindicated at the end. The movie’s flaws apart, I cried so many times at the end especially with the ‘Hope & Love transcending all barriers’ theme. There was this particularly moving scene (Can’t remember which one), which suddenly sparked this sense of knowing in me. That was when it hit me that all those messages from last night were meant to bring me here. (ESP maybe?)
I wasn’t exactly sure why but I certainly felt that I was meant to be there in NYC at that moment. Before that weekend, I was merely contemplating the idea of visiting New York just because I had nothing better to do. However, the NYFOL coinciding with my birthday (the perfect & only excuse to really visit NYC that weekend), my friend inviting me, the affection & the generosity of the lovely couple and then the movie; it all felt connected.
A friend once told me that my talk can sometimes get heavily into mysticism. What makes this intriguing is that I’m currently re-watching one of my favourite childhood anime ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ which has its healthy share of mysticism & love. Whatever it is/was/will be, I made a great friendship and had a very uniquely happy experience.