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Friday, December 4, 2015


humans of new york stories
My copy of the new book, Humans of New York Stories, arrived in yesterday's mail. I have "liked" the HONY site on facebook and receive the posts. I ordered self a copy of the new book, questioning the purchase like buying an album because I like one song and when I play it, the song I bought it for is the only one I like.  I quit buying an album for one song years ago. Faced with the question of whether or not to buy Humans of New York Stories, the book, I hesitated. I'd seen several of the posts and liked what I saw, but questioned a whole book of 400+ pages. I reasoned with self in service of saving money that I see entries on facebook, why pay to see them again? Which turned out not to be reasoning, but justification for talking self out of buying something I want when it is easily affordable. I don't see much reason in that. I want it. Now. Click purchase and be done with it. The book was in the mailbox two days later.
humans of new york stories
I pick it up every time I sit to read and cannot put it down. Every page is so wonderful, it doesn't matter which ones I see first or next, just anything. I open it randomly and skim it randomly. My favorite of ones I've seen is an old white man, mid-seventies, who says, "This is getting too personal." It was all he had to say. Another favorite is a man in some kind of uniform delivering what looks like mail, and not, to an address One Fifty Seven. He said, "Listen, I've got to go. If I tell them I'm late because I was getting interviewed, they're not gonna want to hear that. Not gonna believe that for a second." They struck me funny because so unexpected. Everybody else is ready to tell their story. A favorite of the ones that tell their story is a man with a tie and a moustache saying, "I've been working for forty-five years, and so has my wife. But we have no money. You know why? Because my five kids have two bachelor's degrees, a master's and two doctorate degrees. They are my wealth."
humans of new york stories
To me, he was uplifting. Many of the people's self-definitions have an uplifting quality unintended. And one man was so blunt as to say, "I don't want to live." He looked like he meant it. The book has people who tell of their lives in brief sentences or paragraphs from the whole spectrum of human existence. New York City is the melting pot of the world. Walking on the sidewalk in NY I hear people talking in languages I'm totally unfamiliar with. The people that went down with the WTC towers were from all over the world. The population in NY is like the crew on the ship, Pequod, in Melville's Moby Dick, a melting pot of the world. I especially remember the scenes of the crew around the big pots of whale blubber, people from all over the world, everybody's hands in the pot breaking down the lumps, the melting pot. The humans of New York are people from everywhere on earth, a pie slice of humanity.
humans of new york stories
I find it especially interesting looking through the book that the people often look like what they say of themselves. People of every age. A man of mid to late sixties in what looks like a bookstore says, "I don't believe in anything." "What's the last belief you held?" "That I could believe in something." A woman in her forties, dressed all in white, her hair bleached almost white, big black handbag, arm in the air, saying, "I'm late for a show. You can try to take my photo while I hail a cab." A woman in her sixties said, "I'm trying not to take on everyone else's shit so I can relax for a second." I sit here looking through the book for quotes short enough to show you several to give an idea of how true to home each person is. In the pictures, you see somebody you've never seen before, just like on a New York sidewalk, and you learn something pertinent to the life of each one. The book, itself, gives me the sensation of walking from one place to another in New York City, the whole world in a melting pot. The book gives a perspective for me that they are all, we are all, beautiful people with beautiful lives, whatever they may be, even a  heroin addict. I get a sense of what God sees, looking at the whole of humanity, knowing everybody's stories, and understand how God can only see us with love and the forgiveness that goes with it.  
photos by brandon stanton

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