Tim Folzenlogen

"We are what we experience. Experience something new and become someone different."

Day Nine - Wall Street

I’m always so hopeful, excited, being on the street with my art and cards - making eye contact with the people.

It’s like the possibilities are endless. Anything could happen.

I think this is true of everyone, anywhere, all the time – only they don’t seem to think so, and so it isn’t.

The other day I was on the subway, and there was this tall skinny black teenager with a Bible on his lap sitting perpendicular to me. Every once in a while, our knees or feet would bump into each other, and we’d do the “sorry” thing (which is what passes for social discourse between strangers in New York City - only in my neighborhood they say “me bad”).

So I was thinking about the endless possibilities, so I said to this kid

“ You know what’s funny? Look at all these people, sitting here, riding the subway every day – and nobody ever talks to each other. It’s like they all have invisible boxes around them or something.

“ Not that everybody has to always be talking to everyone else all the time – but you’d think that it would happen at least every once in a while or something.”

He laughed.

Then we talked about Christianity and beliefs.

He concluded with “But everyone is free to believe whatever they want.”

To which I replied, “Yes. Of course. I’m just saying that beliefs are based on experience – and if you experienced what the other guy is experiencing, you’d believe what he does.”

It was such a fulfilling subway ride. It’s almost like we parted as deep friends.

Everyone sitting around us noticed.

Maybe they couldn’t hear everything we were saying, but it was kind of like

“ Wow. Look at that. Older white guy having spontaneous sincere conversation with black teenager.”

It made that ride different, better, more interesting for everyone in the car.

So now I do this all the time everywhere. I don’t force myself on anyone - but if I see an opening, I’ll try to move in, just to see what happens.

So this day I went to Wall Street.

I walked past the old site of The World Trade Centers. It’s mostly just a huge construction site now. There is this fence, with plaques on it, some 9/11 related - but most deal with the entire history of the area.

I guess it’s an effort to put perspective on what happened – which I guess is good, necessary and normal – but something about that event will forever transcend most everything. It took many to the deepest place they have ever visited.

There was so much security on the block surrounding the NYSE that I didn’t think they would allow me to set up on the sidewalk anywhere close to it. The streets were blocked to cars – and there were these really cool looking helmeted cops with black machine guns who were also all black for some reason, patrolling here and there.

But nobody hassled me at all.

The businessman part of me felt very at home here.

It’s almost like everyone there is employed by the same company, and we are all in the business of making money. How to make money?

The market has gone so far up and down in the recent past – the feeling I get is that nobody is really sure of anything any more.

So sometimes, one of these guys in a suit would stop dead in his tracks, turn sharply and stare at my painting for a while, read the card, look at me, take the card, look back at the presentation - and then walk away - maybe looking back over their shoulder at me.

It’s like they were thinking about it.

Stranger things have happened.

Maybe something is going on here.

The next day, when I checked my website stats, one hundred and ninety-two essays had been clicked on the day before.

That’s a record.

September 22, 2003