Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Don't Talk On Metro

The other day I was coming home on the metro after going downtown for a job interview. I was sitting in my seat reading Happiness Is An Inside Job by Sylvia Boorstein when a woman in her mid forties came and sat in an adjacent seat next to a young man fresh from college. At first the young man was listening to his mp3 player and jamming to his tunes. After a few minutes though, he decided to engage the young woman in conversation. In the metro, as a rule, strangers do not talk to each other. There is a metro decorum which says remain in your own little world and do not engage the other passengers. At first, because he had broken the decorum, I thought that the two of them knew each other, but when she responded by saying " "You must be new here, don't you know that people don't talk on the metro", I knew that they were strangers. I smiled and paused, alert like a cat watching a mouse hole to see how this exchange would go. The young man however, did not give up, he continued by saying "no, that can't be true" and repeated his question about how her day was. By now the woman was smiling too. He was serious in his attempt to be friendly. They began to talk. Soon they caught me smiling and observing them and the three of us engaged in a very pleasant conversation.

As all of this transpired, some other passengers began to smile too. It was not quite like what happens here: but it was interesting to observe. At one point the two asked me what I was reading and what it was about and I found myself in a discussion about cultivating happiness internally rather than looking to external circumstances to provide it.
I even mentioned that we are not our stories or our reactions or anything else that we can name and found myself talking about how we often respond to events from a place of our particular conditioning not from the expansiveness that we are. We chatted more, talking about our jobs (or former jobs) and where we lived and eventually the woman departed and said goodbye to the both of us. Eventually I got off too.
We never even learned each others names but we shared a wonderful connection that day. That connection exists all the time with everything if you take the space to be aware of it. But most of the time we are operating from our conditioned responses. " Its not ok to engage other passengers" "I must remain in my own world" "S/he will think I am coming onto them if I say something" We do not allow ourselves to feel our oneness or let it drive our actions. We do not see that we are created anew in each and every moment, as is the rest of the world. We operate as if what we did a moment ago, governs what we must do now. How freeing would it be if we realized deeply that we are reborn each moment and that it is only our mind which conjures the illusion of continuity. We do not have to brush someone off on the metro when they start talking to us just because that is what is done on metro. A new world awaits us.
How lovely it was to watch the young man crack the shell of our conditioning and remind us that we are all in this new world together.

1 comment:

Doreen said...

I liked the way you called the woman in her mid-forties "young."
We are forever young at heart, are we not?