Posted tagged ‘Jackie Robinson Park’

Manhattan Mandalas: A NYC Walking Meditation

April 14, 2010

Walking in Riverside Park is a linear experience.

Upper Riverside Park Map

Like its lovely Harlem sister parks, Morningside, Saint Nicholas and Jackie Robinson, Riverside Park stretches north like a ribbon unfurled.

Bounded on the west by the Hudson River and on the east, at least in its northern reaches, by the high cliffs of Morningside and Harlem Heights, the park is just too narrow for the kind of meandering induced by the curving paths and deep woods of Central Park or Prospect Park.  I grew up wandering in Central Park, and I’m happy to say that I still regularly lose my way in the Ramble or the North Woods. Heading east, I’ll strike out on a new path only to realize,  fifteen minutes later, that I’ve somehow turned myself completely around. I’m headed straight back where I came from.

That doesn’t happen in Riverside. It’s pretty much flat-out impossible to lose your way in Riverside Park. It’s hard to even take a turn.

I’m not complaining. I love my park. But like the tug-propelled barges that work the river, you can go north or you can go south, and that’s the way it is.

Maybe that’s why I sometimes find myself obsessed with circles.

It starts innocently enough with a natural oval inside the park

but quickly progresses to circles, natural:

Who lives here?

and man-made:

Quick, somebody, wash out the mop.

Leaving the park, I have a revelation: the streets of Manhattan are paved with mandalas.

Some are large

and some are small

And when I raise my eyes from the street, what do I see?

Yes, you guessed right.


We cross Broadway with its mysterious, circular hieroglyphics

and head, at last,

to Mecca

where the apotheosis of the circle resides in ever-replenished, puffy splendor.

The consumption of a plump, fresh-from-the-oven edible circle successfully exorcises my obsession.

For the moment.

Oh, but look at that ceiling light.

May the circle be unbroken.

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