Tag Archives: cities

Anonymity in the City

11 Aug

Sometimes I like to

make the anonymous

passing faces



picture them smiling in a

kitchen on an autumn night,

chopping carrots and

drinking wine


see them looking at themselves

critically in a bathroom

mirror, before

a night out.


I try to climb inside them

to see through their eyes;

make them the first person,

myself the third


fleetingly, as I walk by,

unknown and meaningless,

as our lifepaths cross.

And uncross.


And I wonder where they go to,

perhaps home to a husband,

and a house of

smiling children,


or back to a lonely flat and

a sad dinner for one,

or maybe to the bedside of an

fading aged parent.


And sometimes it overwhelms me:

all the ‘I’s in the world,

with our multitude of lives lived

separately and together,


and though I’ve heard it said that

“no man is an island”, I often feel

like we’re adrift and floating

through the world.


This is something I like to do on occasion: try and transport myself into the psyche of a random passerby, and picture the world from their eyes. There is nothing psychic about it, there is no way I could even begin to imagine what they are thinking, but it is interesting to create fictional characters from them, giving them a story and a life, instead of just ignoring them. Sometimes I might base this story on what they look like, and the facial expression they are wearing – just why does that poor man on the underground look so world-weary? And what just happened to that woman that has brought that subtle half-smile to her face as she walks along a busy street?

I think it is nice to look at each and every person and recognise their humanity and importance. Sometimes the bustle of modern life and big cities makes us write one another off, and view each other as just more meaningless fragments of the enormous body of humanity. In fact we are all in this together, and there is no telling what each and every random person on every bus and in every supermarket aisle would do for you if you needed help and they knew you, or even if they didn’t know you.