Notice the men in their dark overcoats and thick scarves, huddled together on the train platform talking on the phone to their wives, mistresses, mothers. Notice the Persian youths who exist in clouds of perfume and hair gel and broken German. And of course you can’t help but notice the Americans– military perhaps, or other wise on long-awaited vacations basking in their romantic visions of Europe at Christmas time. Then there– the unmistakable screech of the street car as it lurches towards you: your life line, connecting everywhere to you and you to everywhere. Board the streetcar and sit between worlds– rich, poor, men, women, black, white, young, old. Public transportation is the great equalizer. Notice how it calms you, lulls you into a sort of fellowship with the other passengers. A fellowship of transience.
Ease in your headphones to drown out your mind. Pretend you’re in a music video. Notice a couple kissing on the doorstep of an apartment in a neighborhood you only ever see in passing through tainted windows. Observe the refugees– unmistakable by the weariness in their brows as they slink down the sidewalk with bags full of groceries with foreign names no German could ever pronounce.
Listen as the man being interviewed on the podcast tells how he became a famous comedy writer. “No,” he says, “I was not the class clown. I was the quiet kid in the back of the class who observed everything the class clown did, wrote it down, and became a famous comedy writer.” Nod. So it is with you. And so it should be with a great deal more people, perhaps. Less lions and more chameleons, noticing the world in all its broken beauty. Less centers of attention and more payers of it. To notice is to cut a thin slice of joy from the meat of life and savor it as long as you can.
So go on…notice. I dare you.