to know and be known
Cities are funny little microcosms of people crammed into tiny little apartments. Hong Kong, New York, London, San Francisco, Paris, Beijing being cities I’ve visited that all fit this model. Increasingly so even smaller cities start to take on these characteristics.
Certainly, anyone inside the city could move 30, 60, 90 minutes away and find increasingly larger lodging for decreasing prices. Yet everyone wants to be where everyone else is - we are communal beings. I saw an abandoned house in Lantau Island a couple weeks ago that reminded me of one I saw in Staten Island. Not to knock Lantau or Staten Island, but I bet if those same houses were in Hong Kong Island or Manhattan they’d be sold, knocked down and turned into high rises or overpriced lofts within a matter of months.
People are willing to sacrifice comfort, space and lifestyle to be surrounded with other people, yet at the end of the day, find themselves rushing to find that corner table, the not yet discovered restaurant, the private club, to seek solitude and quiet in a city they chose for one reason or another – proximity to something. I suppose one could fill that blank of proximity with grandeur, invention, beauty, art, culture, or genius – things that might keep some of our hearts and minds captivated. I would suggest that fundamentally, it’s an innate human desire to be in some form of community with others.
The more introverted among us may perhaps desire more solitude so one might preclude that introverts have a greater appreciation for suburbs but this doesn’t seem to be the case. On the contrary, we also don’t find that densely populated cities are filled with extroverts either. Thus, I return to the assertion of humanity’s need for community. Fundamentally, we desire to be known by others and to know others deeply.
Going to San Francisco this past weekend for a dear college friend’s wedding and reminded me of how nice it is to know and be known. Years may have separated the last time I spoke to some of these friends but having a shared history of growth, struggle and joys, mostly we pick up where we left off. I’m excited to see the seeds of some of these friendships being planted here in Hong Kong as well.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of His work from beginning to end.”
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