Last week, I got to experience a time-honored New York tradition: an over-packed subway ride. Specifically, the morning rush hour commute – which is pretty much the equivalent to a grope-fest in a movement class for first year theater majors. It’s one of those daily experiences that essentially defines what kind of New Yorker you are; and if you choose to take a cab, then yes: I would love to take over your lease after you move to Seattle.
Anyway, I stood on 2 – stuck nose-to-nose with my fellow 8 a.m. foot soldiers – in a helpless situation. Because of a rail malfunction, the train was forced to double up. All you can do in this situation is make the best of it. Oh, and try not to get pissed off by the guy sitting in the folding chair reserved for the disabled and elderly, in effect taking up the space of two people at one end of the car. I’m not saying that this guy was the singular reason for an overcrowded subway, but he definitely wasn’t helping. As he fell asleep in his seat, and the subway car grew more and more packed, people were forced to reach over him and stand around him in order to get on the train. The best part of it all was when he woke up, saw that he was taking up more space than necessary, and still chose to go back to sleep rather than stand up, and make the ride a little more tolerable for the rest of us,
As most of us were repeating a few self-affirmations to prevent ourselves from punching this schlub in the face, there was a lesson in that same moment: in any- and everything in life, all it really takes is one person to make everyone else miserable. Tea Party Republicans. Jay Leno. Blake Lively, who refuses to answer any of my Craigslist missed connections (my DVR is broken). Firestarters like these don’t necessarily start the problem, but they easily enable it. And usually, they’re also the same people with the least to lose, because their motives are always to criticize first, and skirt responsibility second. That’s not meant to be a knock, but cynicism does tend to be born from fear and anxiety.
The point I’m getting at is: consider the effect a negative outlook can have on anything you pursue in life, and then consider the same effect of a positive one. One truly unique aspect of this time in history is that optimism is a viable option in the hearts and minds of many people. What it ultimately comes down to is being able to let it happen, instead of getting frustrated with people like the schlub on the subway. Because ultimately: everyone was going to get off of that train, including that schlub, who is always going to go on being a schlub, no matter how many people want to kill him. So, if we always know that, then why let him, or anything else, get us down?