As the world's population shifts to cities, it's time to think about where to find nature. I've long felt that New York City's abundant great parks are what make the city livable: in other words, not the buildings and streets themselves but the green spaces between them. The lack of nature can make you so anxious and depressed that there is even a term, Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), for children who don't get get outdoors enough. Meanwhile, the healing Japanese medicinal art of Shinrin Yoku, forest bathing, holds that guided sensory walks in nature lead to increased feelings of well-being.
But still, sidewalks can be harrowing places. New York City walking for the non-tourist is not a leisurely stroll but often a nerve-wracking competitive sport. Most streets do not have enough shade or trees, and there are few places to sit and take a break besides bus stop and mid-avenue benches in the middle of traffic. What a lovely surprise then to find this pop-up rock park on a way west Chelsea block.
A little rock sit was the perfect antidote for my pre-election stress and general urban ills.
As I sat on the granite ledge, I remembered the inspiring views from the peaks of New Hampshire's Presidentials. The granite ledges felt very rooting and took me out of the city's frenetic pace. The rock stop seemed to work well for the arty guys shown above too, even if they did continue checking their phones while they sat or leaned.
Here's what you can do with a city pet rock. You can take a lunch or coffee break with Vitamin N. You can think back to all the mountains you've ever climbed, the views you've enjoyed and the sunsets you've relished. Or you can just strike a pose and check your email. But even if you don't unplug completely, it's still way cooler than sitting on an ordinary wooden park bench. My vote is for big, beautiful slabs of granite all over the city.