It's Been Beautiful Pt. 2

February 7, 2010
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The commute to my office was quiet. The people on the train stood around just staring at each other, feeling awkward. Some of them looked down at the ground, shifting back and forth, uneasy with everything. We had all been forced to accept it and move on like it was just another day, but we all knew that it wasn't.

I sat alone, near the back of the car. The window was right next to me, and I stared out of it for a while. Things moved past me; people, platform, signs and advertisements. It was all so... meaningless. Why did we react to these stupid things? Why did we give them value, and put one thing over the other when in the end it meant nothing. Buying so many things, trying to make the most amount of money, or doing “more” with our lives than anyone else was so futile, because in death we were all equal. It was something we all had in common.

But wasn't life as well? We all lived, and yet we were still so divided. Was it because we knew life, and not death? Death was this big, black, unknown “thing”; this mystery that had never been solved, and it terrified us. Life was joyous; life we could manipulate and control, and we could force it to give us what we wanted. Maybe that was the flaw in my philosophy. We can only control things in life, but never death. Death was so far beyond our reach, so far beyond our comprehending, even in spite of our best efforts.

The train came to a screeching stop, and I stood up, moving towards the door. My head was lowered, my eyes angled towards the ground. Again I sighed, and moved forward with the rest of the crowd.

The city was bustling as usual, but it didn't feel the same. There was this hollowness to it, this lack of life and inspiration, and agitation that was usually coupled with it. I hated that. New York was supposed to be alive, but right now the people walked through it with their minds on other things. It wasn't fair. Why couldn't my last day on Earth be happier than this? Why did I have to be so contemplative about everything? Why was I so reluctant to just let-the-**** go. There was no way to change any of this! I had told myself that before! Why was accepting it so difficult?!

On the way past a Starbucks I saw a homeless man sitting on a crate, holding a sign. I stopped, looking over to the old man and the piece of cardboard. He was smiling, not saying a word, but nodding his head as people walked by. He looked crazy, but what did I have to lose? I walked over and grabbed another crate, most likely a spare of his, and took a seat on it. With my legs spread apart and my right elbow resting on my thigh, my face resting in the palm of my right hand, I looked at him and shrugged. I read his sign,

“It's the last day to live life, so go and live it. It's the last day you've got, so go and die happy.” I spoke the words aloud, but not very audibly. Changing my position on the crate, I scratched at my neck and looked at him curiously. “Now, tell me, old man, what the hell do I have to be grateful for? Why the hell should I go and live life now of all times. It's just going to end, there's no point having the joy if it's just going to be gone in the end.”

“Isn't there?” He asked with a smile.


“How can you say that? Look at the world around you, and tell me that it's not great. I've lived half of my life on a sidewalk, with the same pair of f***ing clothes. I'm old, I'm sick, and I've got nobody, but I look back at my life and I remember that all of the good times are a lot better than all of the bad times. All of the bad times helped me learn, and they led me to all of the good times,” he explained, still holding the sign perfectly still for all to read. A gust blew by, ruffling my hair, and I sighed for a fourth time.

“Well, maybe I haven't had enough good times in my life,” I frowned and looked down towards the ground. “It's just been one big meaningless waste of time. We're all just going to die in the end, and there's no reason for us to be here. It's just pointless!”

“And that's exactly why we need to have fun, and relish the good times!” The old man argued. “We're here, we don't know why, or if there is a reason at all, but we're here! We're here, so we need to make the best of it. There may be no point to existing, but we do! We feel misery and pain, and happiness and joy, even when there's no damn point to it! That's why we need to look back on our lives now, and die happy!”

“You're an idealist,” I scowled. “You're just a hobo. I shouldn't even be listening to as lunatic like you!” The old man laughed and shook his head.

“Boy, you'll understand sometime. Hopefully before it's too late.”

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