The Most Interesting Person in the World

Lazy Clown

Posted on: October 3, 2014

September 16

My second day of clowning begins with my ducking behind the shelter to put on my nose + glasses, which causes the bus to pass me by without seeing me.

I consider this day of clowning part of a series called, “Clown Lives Her Life.” It is not to be confused with, “Clown Performing.” This day is called “Clown rides the bus.” The question being investigated is, “What happens when a clown goes about her day?” Everything is normal, but she happens to be wearing a red nose and connecting with people.

The impetus behind this experiment is, What happens when I’m tired? How do I clown and still preserve my energy?

Confession time. I talk about Torontonians living in their own bubbles, ignoring everybody they walk past, eyeballs glued to their screens. I’m not talking about these foreign entities who I intend to change. I was born and raised in Toronto. Despite extensive travel, I’ve lived here all my life. So this mindset I’m describing is completely my mindset. I tune out subway announcements, even when relevant, just out of instinct. I avoid eye contact, mostly because I can’t see people without my glasses. I love my Subway Alone Time, as it is my regular opportunity to retreat into my own world, read my book or listen to my music or collect my thoughts. Swimming in this sea of humanity, I treasure this anonymity as my time to accomplish what I need to. My down time.

This being the case, it’s a struggle for me to embark on this (self-imposed) mission. Sacrifice my reading time? The thought causes my throat to constrict. But I’m writing a thesis! I have so much to read, and this is the only time I can do it!

So why am I doing this? Well, one thing I notice about myself is how rude and pushy I get when crossing the street, or walking on the sidewalk and someone slow is in front of me. Get out of my way! I’m in a rush! Okay… I’m not always in a rush. Sometimes (lately) I’ve found myself with free time. Unaccustomed to a leisurely stroll, I still brisk past people as if they don’t exist. When did I get so rude? So mean-spirited? I have road rage even when I’m not driving.

Another question around this is: Do I have to be “on” all the time? I want to be more present in general, but do I want to be more present every minute of the day?

The yes side: Sometimes I look around me and think, there are so many people here, so many stimulating things, how can I sit here and ignore it all? It goes against my human instincts to pretend that the world around me doesn’t exist.

The no side: Other times I think about my fellow commuters and wonder, Is this their down time too? Maybe they really need to relax after a stressful day at work and before a stressful day with family. Maybe the last thing they need is someone getting in their face and making them pay attention when all they want is to zone out and refresh their overworked brains.

Then again, many people turn on TV when they get home for that very purpose. What part of me entertaining you in person, as long as I don’t expect you to interact, is different from that?

Back to my series. “Clown rides the subway.” I saw an ad for an upcoming Psychic Fair, which sounds exciting and makes me want to ask people if they’re going. (Maybe if they go, I will too.) The first person I asked was an older woman who was not. I was blocking the seats nearest the ad, so an older gentleman who boarded the subway sat next to her. I asked him about it, but he replied in French that he doesn’t understand English. I found out he is from France, and then realised I have exhausted the extent of my command of his language. But apparently the woman is fluent, and they engaged in a conversation about Paris.

Two strangers, neither of whom wanted to connect with me, were given the opportunity to connect with each other. And that never would have happened if I didn’t interfere with people on the subway.

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