I recently chatted with a bus driver while waiting in line at cafe.
Bus Driver: “Connor! How’s your life?”
Me: “Honestly, pretty boring, but that’s the best I can ask for at the moment. Excitement hasn’t really been that great for me.”
Bus Driver: “I feel that! At my job, we typically wish each other boring days. ‘May your day be uneventful,’ we say to each other. Same route, round and round, nothing interesting.”
I have taken great comfort in going through predictable life rhythms. My housemates like to poke fun at me because they more or less know where I will be at any given moment during the day. My baristas know that I drink small Americanos if the weather is 65 F or below, and my restaurant of choice knows that I always get the salmon teriyaki over rice.
One of the highlights of my days is riding the escalator up at the Pioneer Square Light Rail Station and seeing a small blemish on the metal paneling where someone had spilled beans against it. It has been months now since the incident and the beans have dried and been wiped away a little bit, but the mark is still there and I look forward to it every morning.
I’ve been thinking about the movie “Paterson” a lot as a way to contextualize what my life feels like. Directed my Jim Jarmusch and starring Adam Driver, the movie follows the mundane workweek of a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. Every day he drives the bus and eavesdrops on various conversations. After work he walks his dog to a bar down the street and has a beer. When he has free moments, he will write small poems which he transcribes into a notebook at home. At the end of the film, the viewer is left with the feeling that Paterson, New Jersey is sacred, the kind of place where poetry bleeds out of the earth.
I think one of the hardest parts about having this kind of placid life is that I’m afraid that it doesn’t make for very good storytelling. In the evening my girlfriend will say “Tell me about your day,” and sometimes it takes some effort to figure out how to answer this question. In truth, I counted a lot of garments at my job at the menswear boutique, helped a couple customers, sent a couple packages. Of course, things out of the ordinary happen from time to time, but the things I think about most are sometimes just snapshots.
Today on the Light Rail I saw a mother and daughter taking turns whispering into each other’s ears. At work, my co-workers and I puzzled over how many socks we actually had in the shop versus how many we thought we had. When I got my first espresso of the day, the barista asked me “How are you?” and I replied “Lit,” and everyone in the cafe turned to look at me, as if they wanted to see what “Lit” looked like at 8:00am.
A common sentiment I hear when my friends talk about their favorite authors is how they will read anything that this particular author writes. For me, this author is Chuck Klosterman. He once opened an essay with something to the effect of “I’m going to write about an event that no one has every cared about or heard of.” His articles are often about his obsession with music that will go into incredibly overwrought and agonizing detail. I don’t care much for sports, but Chuck Klosterman writes about sports in a way style that reads Malcolm Gladwell meets Abbott & Costello.
What I’m getting at is that I am realizing that there is a difference between boring and peaceful. The more attention I bring to my life, the more interesting in becomes. The predictable aspects of my day, the understanding that tomorrow won’t be terribly different from the today, is comforting. However, I can create excitement through paying attention (to the beans, to my fellow commuters, to the color of the sky) in order to create new dimensions to the story of my day.