Magna civitas magna solitudo.

A large city is a great place to be alone.

(pron = mahg-nah ki-wee-tahs mahg-nah soh-li-too-doh)

Comment: If you find that being in a crowd is a very lonely place, then this
proverb probably speaks to you immediately. It can imply, I suppose, that
large cities are so cold and impersonal that they become urban deserts, so to
speak. But, it may also be that large cities have structured life is such a
way that the individual can depend on them for a certain amount of support.

In large cities, one can get on a subway and read, or write, or be reflective,
even be left entirely alone while sharing very small space with a lot of
people—because the routine of the subway is predictable, and relatively secure.
I am amazed when visiting New York City, for instance, how I can walk block
after block in the city, and never really have to look at traffic lights, or
think about when to walk and when to stop. The crowd on the street does that
for you. You just have to be there. It’s crowded, but fairly securing.
Walking the streets of New York can almost become meditation.

All the more reason why the sudden unexpected destruction of a city is so
devastating. All of the structure and predictability that make life feel safe
are gone, leaving hundreds of thousands of people who knew how to live in small
space together scattered, frightened, and confused.

I am not at all impressed by the making of today a National Day of Prayer. I
learned, growing up as a Methodist, that in times like these, the best
“prayers” are those we put our feet on. With that, I am out the door to
Wal-Mart before school starts today. I will buy diapers—something I have not
bought in 9 years. They will go in the collection that my high school is
making to Katrina victims. My feet and my few dollars will make some baby and
some mom and dad feel safer for a few minutes. Right now, we have to
re-constitute the “large city” for the people devastated by Katrina, and help
them rediscover their solitude.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day is now available on the web.