Every day I work, I take various forms of transportation. First, I drive myself to my local train station. Then, I take an hour and fifteen minute train into downtown Chicago, followed up with an over-priced taxi ride to my place of work.
As I sit in silence in a car full of people all going the same direction but to different destinations, I can’t help but wonder about other peoples’ lives. I hardly know what life means to me, and I’m curious how each person would tell the story of his or hers. Plenty of faces, faces you see but will never know, hellos that could but probably won’t be said, stories you’ll never hear. We live in a world surrounded by people, potential relationships, and we don’t have the decency, or maybe the courage, to discover a life that is sharing a seat with us. When did saying hello and starting a conversation become such a taboo in our society, when did it become scary, weird, out of the norm? We even go to great lengths to avoid it, shoving earbuds into our ears and listening to songs we’ve probably heard a thousand times. We stare at phones, iPads, newspapers, books to avoid any eye contact with the unknown. Even as I write this, I sit alone keeping busy to myself, although, admittedly giving in to my people-watching tendencies, observing my surroundings with the casual glance around the train.
And what happens after the train, when the remaining passengers have all made it to the last stop and must go separate ways? I’m as guilty as any of the rush that ensues to escape from the train doors and onto the platform, only to rush more to get out of the station and hail the nearest cab, all to stare at your watch and the meter and wish you could somehow get there a little faster.
There. There, where? Where are we all going to? Where are we all rushing to? Rushing constantly as if someone made time move just a little faster to evoke a panic amongst us, a panic that we are always out of time. And what is this panic for? Are we rushing to work? I can probably assume that the most of us are, because no one rushes to do the fun things on their days off; They do what they want, when they want, and enjoy whatever they are doing in their own time. Isn’t that funny? No one rushes to do the things they actually like.
The whole day after that at work is also rushing. Rushing to get done as soon as possible, rushing to get out of work and back to the train, rushing from the train to get home so you can rush to go to bed so that you can wake up early and rush to do all the rushing over again, and for what? I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and that’s the life I’m living. No wonder we don’t talk to strangers and spark new relationships, there’s a lack of energy from all the rushing! So the cycle continues, and the thought is almost laughable because the people rushing look almost as dead as zombies, an oxymoron if you will.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful place if we all had places and things to rush to that didn’t drain our energy, places and things and work that we actually loved? And in doing so created more positive energy instead of lost it? In the mean time, maybe we could all just take one minute to slow down the rushing, share a smile, and take a breath.