New Haven Line
Sometimes the adjacent trains zoom by so fast you can still see the other side, uninterrupted, just through two additional windows instead of one.
Passenger head silhouettes pop in an out of view rapidly, none of which look the same. The people standing up look like giants.
Perspective is whatever you want to see plus awareness. Life moves fast. It’s vital to stick to a vision unimpeded while being equally aware of your surroundings.
You have to know what’s in your way. Sometimes a hurdle is an open door to opportunity. You’ll never see other opportunities if you solely focus on your main goal. Tunnel visions blinds.
The environment is open to adherence and mutation. Nothing stands still, time always keeps moving. But everyone has the ability to stay composed and open-minded as keen students of life.
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Harlem – 125th Street
One of the things I like most about riding the train is the fact that you have to fight to get a seat every day. There are no guarantees.
The nerves always jump as the train pulls up. Some people will get off opening up a few seats. You can almost always count on the middle seats being available. This seat is no different than one on airline; you’re squeezed with limited elbow space.
Standing is always an option too but most days you just want to sit and and relax. The goal of the any train ride is to just be as comfortable as possible.
Riding the train, finding a seat or the most optimal one, is a reminder that life is a Darwinian struggle. Each day provides unique scenarios that force you to adapt, get smarter or more accepting of the way things are.
The uncertainty of a train commute is so unnecessarily stressful it makes you stronger, builds anticipatory muscle. That lesson may be worth the price of the monthly ticket.
Below are some absolute gems on commuting.
First, the etymology of “commute” Americanized:
The word crossed over to use in a railway context in the US, where regular travellers began to swap day tickets for better-value season tickets; they “commuted” their daily tickets into season tickets.
Second, the concept of commuting as a “third place” to get stuff done away from home and work.
It was a new kind of time in the day: an interstitial mental space between home life and work.
And thirdly, the article explains how commuting via train is a mysteriously personal and more peaceful experience than any other commute:
And that, perhaps is why people go quiet in the underground. It’s the only time we experience a combination of 21st-century technology (the trains), 19th-century technology and vision (the tunnels, the network) and our paleolithic deep self. A person on the underground is experiencing the rare chance to be a 21st-century Victorian caveman.
I’m working on a book right now that compares how riding the train predicts many of the everyday things we see in life. Life is the insides of the train in slow motion.