Figments of Life

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 Nice office. Nice location, near Soho. Satisfied people around, quiet conversation, silence, fingers tapping keys, silence, lots of space, not a lot of intimacy or sharing life stories, but professionalism, gossip, malice, commradery, business, chatter, insights, exhaustion, restedness, a hodge-podge really. In this context, I play the role of a writer. Sign me up! Oh, you did. Anyway ...


I have a headache that subsides when I put the cooler part of my backhand above my brow.


I better say something interesting or you won't want to read anymore.


One thing I notice about New York City is how much you can find yourself here, really fast. Also, you can lose yourself here, really fast. And people like to do a little bit of both.


I was on a train ride the other day. The doors were closing, 'ding-dong,' and a tall, black man squeezed in before they clamped shut. The air released from the breaks to signal our shimmying bottoms on the slippery seats as the metal caterpillar lurched forward.


I was looking right at this man because he drew attention with his exasperated posture and tallness. I was staring to my own embarrassment. I looked away and smiled because I had made even myself uncomfortable, plus he was not responding to my effort to gesture that I wasn't staring to alienate so much as relate.


Then, just before we actually pulled away from the stop, I turned to look up again and saw a man who just missed our train. He stood there, looking at all of us inside. I had turned to the side and smiled after staring at the tall man, but not meaning to look at him. Still, when I looked up, I tripped on his gaze from outside into the car, he was shaking his head and smirking and looking right, square at me as if to say 'dang it.'


His pointed stare would have been embarrassing or awkward had it not been for the fact that I would never see him again and had never seen him before.


I thought to myself: being in New York is like being surrounded by life and death. You see people for the first time and the last time within a period of a second. They are born and die to your awareness in fleeting succession. It's like a lifetime in a day's worth of meetings and partings.


Then I thought -- that's part of why it pays to be a subway performer. Because people might see you more than once, recognize you, and you live! You live, you don't die. You make more of an impression. You are not a ghost, a figment, you are for real.


The way that guy looked at me when he missed the train though -- so much drama and for what? For the sake of it, if you ask me. He did it because he could. He barely lived in my world. But then again, he lives, in this entry, in my memory. But it's not him. It's just his face, his shaking head, his sorry eyes and that heavenly clown act that helps me remember the game of life, death, imagination, memory and living in a sea of spirit that takes shape only when you scoop yourself together with your family or friends.