What is meaningful?

Commuting gives a man time to think. Maybe too much time. Seven minutes to the subway, during which time I may or may not stop at the store. It may be cold or windy depending on the wiles of winter. Three to four minutes waiting for the subway either numbing the boredom with soundless video on the overhead screens or listening to the same forty or so songs on my phone. Here it comes, will I fit in the sardine rollercoaster or will I be proud and refuse the humiliation for another few minutes?

Twelve minutes to the exchange and the doors open. It’s my morning exercise, half a mile of pedestrian NASCAR underneath the city. I draft, I accelerate and I overtake but I am never the guy who steps on your shoes, I know you’re cranky this morning, I haven’t had the best night’s sleep either and we’re both off to the same grind. For this one three minute part of our day I understand you, fellow human.

If I played my cards right during the race I step onto the platform and I’m at the very spot where the fifth door from the back will open. I am not in front of the door, I am just to the side. The tide of people from inside the caterpillar parts the five deep phalanx of suits and dreadlocks but I am in the ideal spot to pop inside and grab a seat as soon as the last of them is out, well done me.

As the doors close and the train moves off into the tunnel I contemplate the enormous uselessness of my accomplishment. Here lady, sit down, I don’t want it anymore… It’s meaningless. I tap the rhythm of the song quietly onto the floor as if it could somehow disturb the mass of fellow cattle lurching in harmony to either side of the car as the wheels echo loudly in the caverns.

Eighteen minutes later and it’s the last stop, all out. Close to a thousand people funnel to two subway exits and I wonder whether there’ll be a queue at the pastry place right before the exit – I like their croissant.

So is this all there is? I’ll be doing it in reverse in eight and a half hours but maybe I’ll have some company.

Why do I feel like I’m wasting this time? I couldn’t possibly read, I could miss a stop, that would be disastrous. Sometimes I arrogantly ponder the problems of the world as though one so little as me could even scratch the surface. The whole journey I’m bombarded by all kinds of messages being pushed into my face whether I like it or not, it feels like being herded, Avon, American Hustle, Vodafone – it’s so eclectic, so noisy. so futile. And then there are these.


True graffiti, not a hundred square meter mural, or an overly complicated and colorful tag, the things you would be tempted to call urban art. No, this is true graffiti. A simple, vulgar message written in haste, maybe on a dare late at night when the subway car was empty. Whether I agree with the message or not is beside the point (it is a crude jibe at our prime minister). Who are you targetting this toward? How will your message be seen? Will it be taken at face value and somehow go viral sparking a revolution against this administration? What is your intent? What was the dynamic in that group when they decided it was a good idea to write this on the inside of this door? Does it mean anything to you or did you write those particular words for lack of anything better? Were you expecting to sway people on the fence about the issue? Did you honestly think that it would? Do you know how much scrubbing it takes to get that marker off? Is this the only place that you did this? Are you on some sort of political graffiti spree? Why? What were your other options? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?


6 thoughts on “What is meaningful?

  1. I know you already know this, but, it means nothing. Just as the almost 10 hour daily grind, the 3-6 hour nightly sleep, the 30-50 minute daily bathroom breaks. It’s nothing and it’s supposed to be nothing. And I’m not just referring to you here, I bet even the most intelligent minds have felt this way. Why? Because it just is. You know it is because you have the courage to think about it and not just hope for the best that this is all a test/simulation/punishment we must carry on with in order to get to the “bonus stage”. But why still go along with it? Well, what’s the alternative? Live in the moment/carpe diem/#YOLO? So your choice is either continue thinking about these things and grind the grind as if nothing’s wrong with that, become your own living reminder that time is running out so you have to cram in as much “meaningful” moments as you can, or give up, which leads eventually to nothingness, as with the previous options but only earlier. It’s great to want to give meaning to things that can actually have a meaning, but your time will always be meaningless. You’ll always be thinking “I could have done something better with my time” and I’m sure that would be true. But who cares? You, of course. That’s why I think you actually have 2 options :
    1. Stop caring about giving meaning to what you do and enjoy it
    2. Stop asking what’s the purpose to what you do and give it your own meaning
    Either way, you’ll still enjoy what you do. Why? Because it doesn’t actually matter and even though you have control of your actions and you can steer your life in whichever direction you like (give or take a few directions), you’re still just a tiny moment in this movie called The Universe. I realize most likely this doesn’t apply to everyone and lots of people don’t get to enjoy their time here, but I guess it’s all part of it anyway so why leave anyone out?

    With all that being said, your wall of text was more coherent than mine but I had to put this out here for some reason.

  2. Hey your wall of text was pretty homogenous (I was going to say tight but I’m not a gangster). I agree meaning is a label. We look for it just as a consequence of looking for patterns and we struggle to ascribe it artificially to things which don’t have room in their definitions for it. We do this irrationally sometimes but it is also, in my view, part of what drives our curiosity isn’t it?

  3. In stilu-mi relativ, totul are sens. Pana cand nimic nu mai are sens, in general in momentele de criza, cand oamenii de langa noi pleaca intentionat sau neintentionat -pierderea inocentei atunci se intampla, si nimic nu mai e la fel dupa. Except it is – si la un moment dat iar totul incepe sa aibe sens 🙂 and the show keeps repeating

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s