A New York moment. If you had asked me, I would have said that the man walking towards me on a street where cars lined the curb was definitely Hispanic. As I approached him, I heard him say to the woman, whom I took to be his mother, walking with him, “Oy vey! I can’t find the car.”

 

We were discussing slavery, when the friend brought up the Tenth Commandment, maintaining that “servant” in the injunction actually meant “slave.” In the Bible I was given when I was ten years old, the passage reads: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” I do not know if the friend’s interpretation was correct, but I was struck again how God, or at least the Bible, which I was told to take literally, speaks to men but not women, or at least in this case not to heterosexual women. It says don’t covet your neighbor’s wife, but not your neighbor’s husband. I find it increasingly easy to follow this injunction because seldom now do I covet my neighbor’s wife. But I was pleased to realize that I was not enjoined from coveting my neighbor’s daughter.

 

“Given the world that he created, it would be an impiety against God to believe in him.” John Banville, The Sea.

 

I almost moaned when the man sat next to me on the subway and placed a keyboard on his lap. As I expected, he had a patter. He turned to me and said, “You are my demographic. I can play Elton John, Billy Joel, Phil Collins, or Vangelis. What do you want?” I found myself actually thinking about my reply and said, “Phil Collins.” He then announced to our end of the crowded, late-night car, “The keyboard is broken, but I am not.” He started pushing the keys. Not a sound came out. Perhaps in his mind he could hear the accompaniment, but we only heard a soft a cappella version of a Phil Collins song.

 

“In New York, the space between what you want and what you’ve got create a civic itchiness: I don’t know a content New Yorker.” Adam Gopnick, Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York.

 

When we are down or depressed, many of us have some sort of a coping mechanism to get us out of the funk. What if you have had a good experience that has left you content or happy or up? Are there mechanisms to extend that positive feeling? I don’t think that I have any. Instead, I might think that I will repeat the experience in hopes that once again I will have that pleasurable feeling. I enjoyed that concert; I should go again soon. It is always good to have lunch with Tony; find out if he is available again next week. But if I feel moved or content after the concert or lunch, I don’t have a way to extend that pleasurable feeling but only hopes of renewing it in the future. Do you have mechanisms to extend a good emotion?

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