Trains thundering all around me, harsh and hurried, uncaring. I sit wondering about this guy Ralph. We work in the same place, he's like the corporate poster boy. He gets excited about the job, he shows enthusiasm.
He tells me that he does what it takes to make money. "I'll act goofy around here all day and they pay me insane amounts of money." That's the kind of thing he tells me. Ralph, he wants to be an artist. He wants to write books, he wants to act, he wants to be a ninja. That's the kind of thing he tells me. He watched some band the other day, he tells me, and he spent the entire time in tears because he was thinking about how much he hated this job. He hates the job, be he's exceptional at it because he gets paid an insane amount of money to be exceptional at it. That's the kind of thing he tells me. He says that's what you have to do. I wonder.
It seems like I've abused my soul way too much already. To do what Ralph says, that almost seems like it would be selling my soul, and I don't think it's ever done anything to deserve that kind of treatment from me. Plus, I just don't think I would be that good at it. I would miss my soul too much to ever do a good job with what I had purchased with it.
Enough of that soul talk, though. So I wonder, what do I think about a person like Ralph? Is he selling out, or is there a new word for doing what it takes to get what you want? Is it selling out to live how you need to so you can live how you have to? Is it selling out if you live happy? If you get to do all of the things that your artistic side desires?
And who really cares? I've never been a poster boy for anything, and I doubt it's a feasible option now. Just wasting time on a train ride home, just wasting thought, just wasting brain power.
I look around the train and I wonder what would happen if you grabbed all of these people and stuck them in a big, empty warehouse and wouldn't let them out. They would have all the food and drink they wanted, but nothing else. No escape. No class system, no one man or woman better than another. How long before they started killing each other? Because there would be no interference from the outside, no interaction with the rest of the world at all. Within a year, that's my guess.
But this is New York City, and I don't know any of these people. So it might not take longer than a day.
Riding the W from Manhattan to Astoria, there's this one great moment where you're looking out the window and all you see are the tunnel walls, all filthy and dark and gray, and as you watch, the gray walls sink and you're suddenly surrounded by city lights and night air and you just sort of can't help feeling free and kind of happy. I really like that moment. It makes me feel that I'm a part of all this, like I'm doing something with my life, that it will all work out. You try really hard to hold onto feelings like that.
It's crazy, I'm on the train, waiting for my stop, looking out into the night. And thinking about her, because that's what I spend a pretty large portion of my time thinking about. Out in the bright night, as the buildings and the lights speed by, that's when I see her. She's out there, smiling and then laughing, she's dancing in the clouds. I smile and imaginary wave at her. She waves back, and I think about how one night she told me that meeting me was one of the best things that has happened in her life. I said something about how that made me both happy and sad. I told her something like when meeting me was a high point in anyone's life, that was a pretty sad life. I should have skipped the cynical bit and told her that meeting her was one of the best things that has happened to me.
My friend, he quit his job. He said he hated it. Computers. He made insane amounts of money, because he was exceptional at his job. Like Ralph. He hated it, though.