NY's Real-Life Halloween Horror Reveals Yin/Yang Play in the Concrete Jungle

Not far from Wall Street was the deadliest terror attack since 9/11—a real-life horror story that laid siege to New York on Halloween. About a mile away and a few hours later, jellyfish, dinosaurs, ghosts, goblins, Wonder Women and a group of human bumblebees marched at the Village Halloween Parade with raucous gaiety.

I was sandwiched between crowds of onlookers at the ongoing parade near Canal Street as I attempted to make a beeline to the closest train station, super-knackered after a long meeting and a dinner engagement. As I stared at the motley group of costumed characters drumming away on Sixth Avenue, a profound sense of gratitude, appreciation, and self-awareness coursed through every fibre of my being.

New York. A maze of egalitarian yuppies, artsy bohemians and free-spirited hipsters, where it is okay to be crazy at some level or the other. A little haven which accepts us for who we are. The melting pot that always moves forward, regardless of a bomb scare, terror attack, blizzard, shootout or any other setback.

The city that catapulted me to a river-facing forty-third floor cubicle on Wall Street. The city that propelled an ivy-league degree in business journalism and visits to Goldman Sachs’ trading flows when I was a fledgling financial journalist emerging from the garb of a management consultant. The city where I found my true calling. The city that catalyzed my drive to be a truer and higher version of myself.

Needless to say, I was terribly upset about the attack, which claimed at least eight lives and injured 12 others. Five of those who died in the attack on Oct. 31 were Argentine nationals who had come to New York, as part of a group of 10 friends, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high-school graduation from the Polytechnic School of Rosario, according to Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Yet, participants in the Halloween festivities were determined not to let fear stop them from celebrating.

“Even though we’re shaking, we’re still strong … We’re not living in fear,” Em Weiss, 28, who had traveled to the Big Apple from Seattle on business, told NBC New York at the Halloween parade, wearing a cat-ear headband and whiskers on her face.

After seeing first-hand, the surreal joy of Halloween celebrators and the excruciating grief of the terror attack, here’s what I realize: Light and darkness coexist on the same plane. We may not enjoy the light in its entirety if we don’t see the darkness, first-hand.

But, it is possible to develop our resilience to darkness and stand united in that endeavour. It is possible to process and experience as much joy and bliss as grief and sadness. This involves re-programming our brains to block negative thinking and respond positively to the negative events in our lives. It is possible to rise above that turmoil and find cause to celebrate life—and every breath we take on this plane of existence.

The real essence of a city or country is not necessarily the place itself, but its people. My relationship with New York has grown to newfound levels after the incident on Oct. 31. Not that it wasn’t there before.  But, the kindred spirit that unites me with New York has now transcended the contours of all that I ever felt before, right from my response to minor everyday irritants to my appreciation for the vivacity that lends character to her people, flora and fauna, all the way from Central Park to Chinatown. The Oct. 31 incident transcends the contours of all those feelings.

“This was … a particularly cowardly act of terror, aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an afternoon press conference held in New York Oct. 31.

Drawing upon his statements, I would say that innocence shall be preserved if the will to do so is stronger than the forces that try to erode it. The purity of that innocence that de Blasio is referring to is a choice. Joy is a choice. How we process the negative events in our lives is our choice. We have infinite power to choose how we respond. We have the free will to create our own destinies and celebrate life to the extent that we can, within the contours of its sheer transience and unpredictability.

Let us choose to embrace love over fear, truth over ignorance and light over darkness.  No matter what happens.

Aloha,

Nish

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Nischinta Amarnath