Today, I was captivated by a teenage boy sitting across from me on the train. His finger was lodged in his nose, probing thoughtfully, seemingly without end. Though I know I shouldn’t have, I couldn’t help but peek at him from over the top of my book each time I turned a page. There he was each time; still exploring. Nary a care in the world. My young students are very fond of picking their noses but this was the first time I’d seen this behavior exhibited in a person over the age of 5. And in public! He continued to dig, I continued to marvel.
Suddenly I was overcome with a profound jealousy. This was a teenager, clad in his navy military-style school uniform, knobby knees sticking out from the standard issue shorts, his face popping over with a variety of ripe pimples, and yet he was apparently completely free from all self consciousness. I thought of the times self consciousness has crippled me in my life – stories I never pitched, plays I never tried out for, crushes I never asked out – and could have withered under the train car’s florescent lights.
Just look at him. Surrounded by benches of strangers, yet spelunking away, absorbed only in his own blissful musings. What strength of character, I thought. What devil-may-care flair. This young man, I was certain, would go far.