I Imagine If I Ask

May 28th, 2014


I’m quite terrible at doing things that I don’t care about. I admit it. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, and that frightens me quite a bit. There aren’t that many things that I really care about, which I guess means that there are even fewer things that I’m good at. That’s a freaking scary thought.

I’m on the subway, headed back to Brooklyn from the Upper West Side. It seems to be a recurring place for me to contemplate my life. Something about this commute also drives my blood sugar down, and I haven’t figured that one out yet. I care about my blood sugar, really, I do, and yet I’m not that good at maintaining it.

I imagine that if I asked all of my friends they would tell me that being good at the things you care about is the thing that will get you far in life. “All of the entrepreneurs and shakers and movers of the world got to where they are because they worked on things that they cared about.”

I imagine that if I asked my father, he would tell me that it doesn’t matter if you’re good at doing something you care about. “It’s better to be good at something that will take you far.”

Those words will throw me for a tailspin and make me miss my stop. I’ll get off the train, finally, reeling from low blood sugar and high levels of contemplation. I’ll stumble up the stairs to the other platform and try to make sense of the map. Where am I again? Brooklyn? Flatbush Avenue? Yeah, that sounds about right. What do I know about Flatbush Avenue? Nothing, other than that the 2 train ends here, and that the rent is cheaper.

A train pulls into the station. “Is this running local?” I ask a man on the platform. The man just looks at me like I’m a rookie baseball player, stepping up to bat for the first time against a World Series pitcher. He nods, incredulously, and I follow him onto the train.

I imagine that if I asked the man on the subway, he would probably shake his head and say: “Do whatever you want, man, life’s too short to spend it getting good at shit you don’t care about.” And in my rapturously low-glucose contemplation, that makes perfect sense to me.

But I get home, stumble up the five flights of stairs into my apartment, and eat dinner, and slowly some sustenance flows through my veins again. The world looks a little different: A little bit less frightening, and a little bit less adventurous, and a little bit more constrained, maybe.

I imagine that if I asked myself, I would probably say: “Yeah, that’s great and all, but you had better be good at more than just the things you care about, because you won’t always be able to make money just off of things you care about.”

Maybe the solution is to get good at something I just don’t care about. Maybe the solution is to start caring about something I’ve never cared about before. And maybe the solution is to bring a snack with me, so that I don’t get low blood sugar on the way back from the Upper West Side. Maybe next time I’ll remember, and I’ll avoid getting low blood sugar, and I’ll never dip into this pool of existential reflection.

Maybe I’ll care a little bit more about the things that matter, and a little bit less about the things that don’t.

The only problem is that I’m still figuring out what those things are.

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