I live in a big city. The population count sign near my house says 6.2 million, with an inevitable uptick every single day.
Go on admit it, that is a lot of people. The census predicts that metro Atlanta will be the sixth largest city in the USA by mid century (roughly 30 years from now).
Everyday I watch the construction of high rises all around my sweet, little, park-like neighborhood. I am often diverted in traffic by concrete machines, cranes, bulldozers, and workers. When I walk my dog at night, the buildings are quite a beautiful sight, all lit up, but I am also reminded how many people are using those lights.
I am a fortunate big city dweller.
I am fortunate because my neighborhood functions like a very small town. We formally gather once a month to eat, share, socialize, and learn. We also gather many times for parties, fundraisers, festivals, and holidays. Raising funds for our 7.5 acre private park (above) which provides a lovely green respite to the concrete which surrounds us, helps us to have a common purpose. Neighbors are always out in their yards chatting with neighbors who pass by. We are a walking friendly, know your neighbor, kind of neighborhood.
I am extremely lucky.
Even though I love every minute of my busy life here in the city, it is still hard. It gets harder almost every day.
Cost of Living
Unfortunately, there are so many in my city that live in dire circumstances. I pass destitute homeless each day, witness families struggling to get by on very little, and I have been a victim of petty crimes on multiple occasions. I wish I could do more to change these things.
But then, I am also reminded of the wonderful airport in Atlanta just minutes from my house, where I can go anywhere in the world for a nominal fee. I am constantly blown away by the wowing bands, artists, actors, and authors which visit frequently. Our shopping is incredible, from great bargain shops to the uber high end and unaffordable luxuries. We are home to many professional teams which are fun to cheer for, as well as, enjoy seeing in person. Atlanta is a well planned city of trees that experiences all four seasons, and can be breathtakingly beautiful in each.
Despite knowing and appreciating so much, it is still hard to live here. Take my word for it. So, as I wrangle with the push and pull of my deepest desires. I can’t help but wonder if this is the place I plan to stay for the rest of my life.
It is so amazing that this poignant song popped up on my radar. The universe seems to whisper to me gently and the music helps me begin to explore potential ideas in order to sort it all out.
Hurray For The Riff Raff-Living In The City
Hurray For The Riff Raff is Alynda Segarra. With a roots rock folk sound and a heartfelt soulful singing voice, Segarra has completed multiple successful albums. On her latest, The Navigator, she reaches deeply into her busking days at 17, her Bronx roots, and her Puerto Rican heritage. According to her bio,
“She describes The Navigator, aka Navita Milagros Negrón, as ‘this girl who grows up in a city that’s like New York, who’s a street kid, like me when I was little, that has a special place in the history of her people.’ Throughout the album (ATO records) the listener hears an ambitiously interwoven, cinematic story of a wandering soul that finally realized she needed to connect with and honor her ancestors.”
A departure from her original works, the album is woven with Puerto Rican salsa, bamba, and a bit of doo-wap. She balances progressive and fresh songwriting with hints of powerful songs of long ago. “Living In The City” is a nice example, it showcases her heavy guitar strumming, balanced with a little string picking ditty, and a country/blues riff sandwiched between the catchy choruses. The song captures something so familiar, but is beautifully original and fresh.
Although the song is based on the fictional character, ‘Navita’, it seems to slyly disclose a resemblance to Segarra’s early life, on her own in a big city. The experience seemed to be an important part of who she has now become. She can now look back to respect and value her distinct personal perspective.
The album was released earlier this year, but the music and especially this song is worthy of our ears again. With my own personal challenges concerning my future, I appreciate the song’s subtle reminder which helps me consider my own positive and negative thoughts about city living.
Whatever decisions we struggle with, I continue to learn through the magic of exploring music. My own personal happiness reveals itself when I make time for moments of inner peace, maintain an optimistic outlook, and plan/work steadily toward achieving my many dreams. We are all navigators, aren’t we?
A smaller city in the future or Atlanta? Time will tell, time will tell. I think I will just play this song again, and again.