Londoners: Are we really that disengaged?

When you have grown up London you do get used to the complete lack eye contact, friendliness or general angriness of morning commuters and don’t get me wrong I have fallen into all of these categories before. However this morning it really hit me just how miserable Londoners sometimes are.
I generally hate commuting, I can understand why people aren’t particularly friendly, you are squished, hot, sweaty and all up in other peoples armpits. Always scouting for that rare chance to grab a seat… a hot commodity on the tube as its the only way to actually enjoy that iPhone, Ipad, Kindle, book you are using to make the journey seem shorter.
So this morning when I walked onto my central line carriage and was met by a man playing his guitar and singing I was pleasantly surprised. Obviously I had the first thought of .. this is bizzare, but I have to say man this guy has a soulful voiceand made for a much more enjoyable journey than usual.

What really got me was the complete lack of engagement from pretty much all the other commuters… the man directly next to the musician continued to look down at his Ipad without somewhat of a glance to his side, almost uncomfortable at the mans presence. The others around had their noses in books, backs turned. The one man who seemed vaguely interested still had one earphone in his ear.

I mean don’t people love live music, don’t they pay to go to concerts, jazz bars… don’t some of these people listen to music to relax… WHY I thought were these people not taking the opportunity to enjoy this like I was.
Are people really so wrapped up in how their commute should be, how their routine plays out and how they are supposed to act in London that they failed to enjoy this small little performance on their tube carriage? It is so strange to me how people are that disengaged and uninterested in what is going on around them, especially if its something different to usual.
It actually made me quite sad…there must be so many people who just miss so much of the world because they are too ignorant to look up from their iphones. I remember a few years go a world famous classical violinist played incognito in a Washington train station and most commuters walked past without a glance.
Of course this completely amateur musician on the tube isn’t quite the same thing.. but the point is that regardless of how talented this person was, or if he had been some famous musician.. the effect seems to be the same.. people just don’t care about enjoying their surroundings, what’s going on during the journey. To me it seems like these people were way to concerned with getting from A to B and completely unwilling to just enjoy the ride.. which today for me happened to include a little impromptu performance from a man just doing exactly that.
Sometimes I worry that I am so concerned with what is next in my life I fail to enjoy the small things, I always look forward to the next dinner with friends, next workout, weekend, holiday, birthday the end point of my undecided career that I don’t appreciate what is going on here and now. I think I lose sight of what I am good at now, how great my family and friends are, how great catching up with my friend was, how great I felt after that gym session or even what I have learnt from my hated job.
It is important to remember that even if it is just looking up from your phone to enjoy that man playing guitar, these things matter, they make up the big picture. If we start to notice them, they add up and life becomes a much more enlightening and enjoyable experience.
It starts with something.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.



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