Looking Up Again

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May 23, 2014 by vh1161

“Doldrums: A downswing, slump, or slack period…a period of sagging or falling off…a deterioration to a low ebb of vigor, creative power, or effectiveness.”

There is no true excuse.  Busy, tired, personal stress, too busy reading, not enough time on the train, no opportunity to get a good sketch, and so on.  The honest reason is that I have let certain assumptions stand in the way of any momentum I was building here.

In February I moved to Northern Virginia and started commuting on the Orange Line.  It’s been a few years since I last rode this line every day, and the first few days were startling.

Life on the Green Line was largely populated by the following: UMD engineering students, worried single mothers orbited by two or three kids, service industry employees, secretaries who invisibly (thanklessly) keep government offices running.  Every ethnic minority.  True, a few hipsters sprinkled in for good measure once we reached Columbia Heights — but for the most part, people who wore their unedited fears on their faces as they stared out the window.  My stretch of the Green Line showed me daily bread worries.

My new stretch, West Falls Church to Farragut West, is almost alarmingly self-sufficient.  Here is why I haven’t been writing: I look at these faces and don’t see eyes that draw me in to a history of work and relationships and worry and victories and relief.  This is a “knowledge worker” stretch of the Metro, and knowledge workers have perfect blank stares that hide what drives them, worries them, or delights them.

At the end of the day, though, it’s not a reason to stop writing.  Just  a reason to look harder. Why did I start this thing in the first place, if not to push myself to look more deeply, to remember that the people I see and make snap judgments about are more than their first impression?  Behind these blank stares and withdrawn iPad readers are undying souls, and souls are complicated, souls are worth writing about.  I’m looking up again so expect more stories soon.

 

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