A funny train ride home

I thought about being a stand-up comedian on the train home tonight.

It wasn’t a serious thought, just an experiment. I’ve been diving so deep into the scene lately I didn’t even realize how wet the water was around me.

A week ago, Cynthia True’s American Scream - The Bill Hicks Story found me on the dollar rack at a local bookstore. Last night’s Netflix choice was Tig Notaro’s special Happy to Be Here, and I was not disappointed by her ten-minute tease whether or not the Indigo Girls would perform to close out the show.

And right before my train home, The Fighter and The Kid podcast hosts, Brendan Schaub and Bryan Callen, were talking shop with comedian Andrew Schulz in my ears.

But just toying with the idea of being a stand-up was an interesting shift. Instead of getting lost in the show, I started to excavate anything around me for laughs. Was someone wearing funny shoes? Was it weird how fast we’re hurling as a crowd at break-neck speeds through a very dark and narrow tunnel? Who approved all this? Some idiot with funny shoes?

And it might sound simple to you and me, but it’s something not everyone can tap into. David Foster Wallace said it best with one of my favorite quotes:

Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about ‘the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.’

Wherever you pay your attention, you start the process of making meaning. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, most of the time we’re not even trying. We think we know what things mean. This is a train. This is my commute home. It’s boring. End of story.

But if you take a second to choose a different reality, all with the single second of a thought, you can find some new meaning, and maybe some new life.