A recent jaunt on the San Francisco Municipal railway (MUNI) at rush hour on a Thursday provided a little peek into a stranger’s life.
Tardy for dinner, I awaited the MUNI at 16th and Church; restlessly updating the train status page on my phone as if it would somehow speed things up. I finally boarded the train and crammed myself between some hipsters and business fellows. I knew it was indeed a rush hour voyage as I had human contact on every side. Standing there, I recognized how fortunate I was to be able to see and breathe above the masses.
From my vantage point I noticed, squeezed into the front window seat with extraordinarily limited leg space and an American sized passenger in the accompanying aisle seat, a journaler. A young lady impressively and carefully writing in a journal while packed into a herky, jerky cesspool of grumpy nine-to-fivers, loud talkers, hobos, and the rest of us.
I couldn’t read what she was writing in her pint size journal and she was using a mechanical pencil; the softness of which made distance reading impossible (Aside: hotter commodity: the mechanical pencil market circa 6th grade or real estate circa ’05? Tough). My appetite for hot gossip on the stranger’s life was clearly not going to be satiated due to the limiting factor of pencil. However, atop her journal page, distinctly written in black ink, was the only legible piece of this entry:
This incredibly basic header – a conjugate and infant-level adjective – declared everything I could ever need to know about this stranger. In ink, at the top of her blank and open page – as if daring the empty page and ensuing pencil writing to change that permanent fact – the proverbial decision to be happy had been made.
What else really matters?