It was another subway ride on my way home. I had the headphones blasting to a deafening point; it’s the best way to block the noise of the big city’s train system. It’s a habit, which I developed once I became a frequent user of mass transit.
It was just another day; everything happened in the same boring daily routine. I waited for the train by the door opening, which would drop me off right by the stairs at my stop.
But on that particular day, I couldn’t get into that particular car, it was way too crowded. I ended up walking to the far end of the platform to ride the first car. It was definitely a great move. I made it into the train without any of the pushing and struggle with other sweaty and tired riders. I was also lucky enough to find an empty seat right next to this friendly old man.
The ride was just like any other daily ride until I saw the old man’s mouth moving, but I couldn’t hear anything he said. I removed the earphones to hear what he had to say. He was asking about one of the train stops in queens. He was getting off at the same stop as me, I told him to get off the train when he sees me get off.
I put back my earphones on and continued listening to my music. However, I saw the old man’s mouth moving again. We started a small talk, which I wasn’t really in the mood for after a long day, but he surely captured my interest after few minutes of talking to him.
I guess it was so obvious that I was tired and annoyed with life in general; he started asking me the following:
“Why do you look so sad?” the old man asked.
“No, I am not sad at all; I am just tired”
“The expressions on your face say a lot more.” He insisted.
“No, really, I am fine.”
“Young man, denial doesn’t help at all in any case.”
“I am just tired of life in general and its many twists.” I replied.
“You can’t just blame life for everything. Life is very simple and beautiful, you just need to enjoy it and live it day by day.”
“Yea, I am aware of that.” I tried to hide my frustration. “But I guess what I really meant to say that I am sick and tired of people and the disappointments that come along with them.”
“You can’t blame things on others either. Sometimes you need to take a good look at your reflection in the mirror, and fix yourself, because we are the ones who cause our own misfortunes at times.” The old man advised.
“I do a lot of that all the time, but it doesn’t seem like anything is changing around me. Everything is the same.”
“Just make sure that you do what makes you happy without any regrets. Do what you love and follow your dreams wherever they may take you. Always think things through and don’t be one of those arrogant young kids that refuse to admit their wrong.”
“I have no regrets so far.”
“I remember saying that plenty of times when I was your age. But boy, was I wrong.” He smirked
“What do you mean?”
“You won’t understand this until you are my age. We all said that when we were your age; we all believed we were invincible beings.” He had a distant look as if he was recollecting something. “You tend to think that you are right and everyone else is wrong. You will never admit your own wrong, and when you do, it’s a rare occasion.
“I definitely second that motion.” I laughed. “I am always right.”
“You don’t get to realize the mistakes you did, and the wrong choices you made until you are my age, and your outlook on life totally changes then, because everything at this point goes in slow motion. You are no longer the busy robot you once were.”
“That is exactly what I am sick of though. People are no longer living; they just exist as robots with no feelings or consideration for others.”
“Well, make sure you don’t follow their footsteps! It sure leads into a very dark alley that is full of denial and regrets that you can’t share with no one else but yourself. You will never be able to get rid of this stuck up arrogant kid that you once were. He will haunt you in your dreams and everything you do.” He pointed at his own heart. “Just follow your heart and intuition.”
We reached our destination and walked out of the train. We continued talking as we walked down the stairs. The old man took his time as he climbed down the stairs, which gave us more time to continue our conversation, but now I was the one asking the questions; I was the curious one. I wanted to learn more.
“I hope I am not being nosey if I ask you about the regrets that you have.” My curiosity got the best of me.
“I was afraid you would ask this question.” He smiled.
“You don’t have to share if you don’t want to.”
“It’s not that I don’t’ want to tell you, but it would definitely need a lot longer than a walk or a train ride.”
“I understand and I hope I didn’t bother you with my question.”
“No, you didn’t.” He paused. “I will tell you this much; I regret about everything in my life ever since the day I started to live in accordance to people’s expectations rather than living up to my own expectations and dreams. I made my decisions based on what others expected me to do, which was at a much lower standard than my own dreams and expectations.
“What do you mean by that?”
“You know when some people just don’t understand the things you cherish the most, and they don’t understand your values and limitations that go beyond their own.”
“I think I have an idea of what you mean.”
“Their limited vision sometimes stops you from following your dreams and doing the things you love.” He stopped in his track.
”If you have faith in your dreams, follow them, and don’t let anyone stop you from attaining them.”
“Amen to that.”
“What is right for others isn’t always right for you, and what is right for you isn’t always right for others. Always know yourself and your limitation. Be honest with yourself before it’s too late.”