Singing Songs on the Uptown F train
Whenever I ride the subway, I usually stand around awkwardly waiting for my stop. I might be listening to music, or meditating, or people watching. Either way, I don’t often feel bursting with aliveness.
Today I had the thought, what if instead of my usual routine on the subway, I did something out the ordinary, like sing songs to my fellow passengers? The thought filled me with dread and I tried to dismiss it. Despite busking for a living, I still feel tremendous resistance whenever I think about trying something new. Something inside of me, however, opened up and I thought, yeah, well maybe I will. It felt surprising to instantly say yes to an idea that was so scary. It made me feel like I was growing as a person :)
So I decided I was going to do this, today, and immediately I was consumed with dread. I went through my usual morning routine but inside I wasn’t at peace. I kept making excuses for why I shouldn’t do it, things like “maybe I should learn how to play the guitar first,” (lol) or “maybe it’s morally wrong to subject people to my singing without their consent.” Both were valid points, but I knew they were coming from a place of fear and as tempting as it was, I refused to give in. One of my main mottos is: Do it before you’re ready. Otherwise, you might wait your whole life.
At 1:45pm I left home with my guitar in hand. I felt like I was on a secret mission that no one else knew about. My goal was simple: sing a song on a subway car. It didn’t have to be a good song and no one needed to like it.
When I got in the station, immediately the F train was approaching. Yikes, I thought, this was really about to happen. I entered the train to a crowd of unsuspecting passengers, everyone with their heads down and phones out. It felt like I was about to surprise everyone. Maybe I should scratch this whole thing, I thought, maybe this really will be a big inconvenience. But I couldn’t stop now. I knew it had to happen like a band-aid: One motion, RIGHT OFF!
Without thinking, I began strumming the guitar. I started blurting out words and instantly was met with blank stares: That awkward feeling where everyone notices your existence for a split second, and then resumes whatever they were doing before you entered their consciousness. As a street performer, I have grown very accustomed to this feeling: Feeling invisible, weird and anonymous, yet needing to save face and keep performing. It hurts, but I try not to take it personally. How often do I walk by musicians on the subway without giving them a moment of my attention?
I sang my song: an ode to the F train, and then bolted off the car. I did it! It wasn’t good, but I did it. Inside I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. On my way out a man handed me a dollar, which I thought was cute and I bumped into a fellow artist who was also going car to car, singing Justin Bieber songs ha. I guess I’m part of the ‘people who sing songs on the train’ community now. I pushed myself to try and do it again, but whenever I would get into a new subway car, I felt like a deer frozen in headlights. How about the next stop? I would keep delaying. It’s so hard to overcome that hesitation!
At the end of the day, nothing memorable happened. It was a “nothing to write home about” kind of day. And yet, I know it was important. Today I said yes to something I was scared of doing and that’s what matters! I believe that overcoming fear is a muscle that needs to be practiced daily, little by little. The more you show yourself that it’s possible to do what you fear, the easier it becomes. My takeaway for today is: the best way to do what you’re afraid of, is to do what you’re afraid of. Lol, I hope that makes sense :)
Let me know if you’ve ever had a similar experience!