A few days ago I was standing on the train, looking around. Sometimes I like to just look at the other people on the subway and wonder what their lives are like, what they do, think, or believe in. How do they view reality? It makes me think about the way that I view and interact with other people. In a place like New York City, there are just so many people that invariably some of them fade into the background and just become noise or static at the edge of the story of my life.
That’s sort of sad to think about. Some people are a brief hello, or a shape in the hallway, or a flash of color against the snow. But it isn’t really possible to form longterm and meaningful relationships with everyone we meet. I read a study one time that said it’s only possible for people to have about 250 relationships in total. By that, the report meant meaningful relationships where we actually know about other people and keep up with them. After that, our minds just can’t keep the story straight anymore. That’s probably pushing it too. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, because I move so often, but I don’t know that I’d be able to, or even want to have, more than two dozen people at a maximum that I keep up with regularly, outside of family. Maybe it’s laziness, or maybe I’m just interested in developing a few relationships that matter, instead of a lot of relationships that don’t.
Anyway, I like to try to put myself in the shoes of the people around me, or to imagine the world the way they might be seeing it. Sometimes it helps me to remember to be a better person, in terms of common courtesy, and it helps me to remember that the world doesn’t revolve around my life. There are other people with needs and concerns just as real and crucial as my own. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that, and easy to forget to be good to the people around me. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying to improve myself.