Billy Keyserling

New York’s “Little Island” a Bridge over Troubled Water

By Billy Keyserling

On Thanksgiving I had a rare (in these days of division and orchestrated chaos), enlightening and hopeful, feel-good experience.

Before joining family and friends for the warm gathering and “healthy meal,” Paola and I visited “The Little Island” that rests on pedestals over the Hudson River on New York City’s west side.

The Little Island is but 2.5 acres but creates a mini world of its own. It was created in large part by the private sector to replace the decrepit Pier 55, which had no practical use and was an eyesore.

The Little Island is gorgeously landscaped, with views up and down and across the River. There are steps and ramps that lead to viewing stations, an outdoor amphitheater and rocks on which one can perch to watch the views, but also the people, a favorite pastime of mine in New York City.

While the island is unique and physically beautiful, what struck me the most was the diversity of people out and about in this special place, celebrating a beautiful day of thanks. I heard more languages spoken than I could identify. I saw costumes from around the world.

Young people, old people and sort of older people like me who want to stay young. People from diverse ethnic groups domestically and from abroad sharing the grace of God and the gift of a private citizen who built the island for us to share.

We found on the Little Island an assemblage of gentle people sharing a special place in a courteous way with smiles and joy soaking up the sun and fresh air. Most were wearing masks because of the close proximity of the crowd that meandered the site. No one sneered or criticized them.

When we left the little piece of paradise, represented by the place and its visitors, I told Paola I was not going to watch the “news” because it would ruin such an uplifting experience.

It has been weeks since we were there and the warmth of human feelings remain strong in my head and heart.

The other day, for some reason, I thought of the Simon and Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Give yourself a gift and learn more about the Little Island at https://littleisland.org/. And then think about the lyrics of Bridge over Troubled Water. And finally, think about what you can do to make this is a better world for all.

How we can expand the Little Island as a Bridge Over Troubled Water throughout the world, restoring peace, freedom, equality, opportunity and common decency as we share this miraculous planet with so many others.

That’s what on my mind and hopefully something to think about as we enjoy the holiday season. Let’s seek to be kinder, more gentle and civil toward one another. We were brought into this world to create a civil society and to be good shepherds of our natural resources. We can and must do better in 2022.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season while mindfully caring for the many others with whom we share this glorious planet.

Billy Keyserling is the former Mayor of the City of Beaufort.

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