Urban Graffiti (Ryan McGuire, Gratisography)
Mickey Z. — World News Trust
November 13, 2020
A couple of weeks ago, I made plans to hang out with a friend in the city. (Reminder: Every New Yorker who does not live in Manhattan calls that borough “the city.”) Our meeting place was Barnes & Noble at Union Square — home of one of the few reliably available public bathrooms in NYC during the pandemic.
When the downtown N train pulled into the 14th Street/Union Square station, I de-boarded, and lo and behold: my friend was getting off the same train! I rode the N from Queens. She got on at Times Square. We unknowingly sat one train car away from each other over the course of four subway stops. This coincidence reignited a contemplation I’ve often had about the randomness of life.
N Train at 14th Street/Union Square (screenshot from a YouTube video)
Who else was on that same N train? Perhaps it was Paul, the guy with whom I shared an office during the only (short-lived) 9-5 job I ever had in my life. Or maybe Janet had been seated just a few seats away from me. She’s a girl I kissed in P.S. 112 schoolyard one summer night when I was 14. At any point, while walking through Manhattan that day, I could’ve come within two blocks or two feet of a former classmate, former landlord, former co-worker, former neighbor, or former lover. The longer you live, the more “formers” you accumulate.
People come and go in your life. Even someone who feels indispensable and irreplaceable right now may grow estranged in the near future. Some of those people may circle back to cross orbits with you again. The truth is, none of us have a clue as to how long most of our connections will last. Except for very rare instances, we can never know if we’ve already spoken our last words to someone — all the more reason to treat people with respect, patience, kindness, and compassion.
People come and go in your life… often without rhyme or reason. This can be heart-wrenching. Such events can also enrich our existence. In some cases, they may provoke little more than a shrug. The only person who’s always there is you. We all have attributes (real or imagined) that we don’t like about ourselves. We have regrets, doubts, and things that elicit guilt or shame. It’s an inevitable and normal part of the human condition — all the more reason to treat yourself with respect, patience, kindness, and compassion.
Meme found on Facebook
People come and go in your life. Everything I’ve ever experienced has already happened. Every conversation, each moment of pain or pleasure, the many doubts and many smiles. The confusion and the clarity. All the books I've read and movies I've seen. The countless articles I've written. All of it is in the past. But… the future remains unwritten. So, dig this: As I type this sentence, a stranger could be walking past the apartment building in which I live. I don’t know them yet but, within two hours, two days, two weeks, two months, or two years, they may become an important part of my social circle. Again, the randomness of it.
In the meantime, despite life’s endless and unpredictable fluctuations, all I truly have is right here and right now. And the only person who will always be there — in the here and now — is me. I am my own permanent roommate. This makes me wanna start being a much better friend to myself.
How about you?
Mickey Z. can be found here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!