Monday, January 26, 2009

We are human

Today I partook in a rare pleasure that I haven’t been able to enjoy as of late: taking public transportation to work.

Broad Line North to City Hall, connect to the Market Line West towards 69th St Station, off at 30th St and onto AMTRAK for the 25 minute ride to Paoli.

But the joy of public transportation has never borne its treasures from the mere riding of a train. The pleasure comes from what I do with the time. During the warmer months, there were times where I would ride my bike to the train and spend the time reading. Sometimes I would pray. Sometimes I would sleep. Every now and again, I would talk to fellow passengers.

This morning, I stared at people.

I wondered at how time, and stress…the brokenness of life…the anger, despair, sadness and loss of remembering humanity worked toward the deterioration of the human body.

There was an old man to my right; he looked, upon first glance, as many of those who might ride the train for warmth or companionship.

I started at his shoes, brown leather – a little worn, but not worn out. Above the shoes, tan pressed dress pants. There was a soft messenger bag type case leaning against his leg. His hands were a little blue due in large part to his somewhat translucent skin giving us all a glimpse at the toil of his life and the reality of his age. There were imperfections on his skin: perhaps they were warts, maybe they were cancer…maybe they were nothing but proof of a life lived over the course of many decades…maybe they were proof of a man who has loved, and hurt, who dreams…or lost hope. His hair was more salt than pepper and his mustache was the same. For the entire ride – 15 blocks – between city hall and 30th St, he sniffed. It was cold.

Before I actually boarded the west bound Market Line, I stood with the masses of others who were going to work, to school, those who were wandering aimlessly and those who were wandering with the promise of home as their impetus.

A man stood beside me. He was an African American man with thick rimmed glasses. He wore blue jeans and a blue coat. And… I feared that he was staring at me.

I don’t, as a general rule, look at people who are looking at me.

I like to give them the enjoyment of observation.

It was my turn once we boarded the train, however.

This was a man who seemed to be riding for companionship. He looked longingly around – in front of himself and to his sides. As the train slowed towards our stop, he congregated near the door with those people who were finishing out their ritual service of morning train hopping. He interjected himself into the solace of individual riding and pressed for a kinship between his fellow man – something that might be recognized as a common point of contact. As with many who operate within an alien culture, his handling of the time of communion was rough if not incoherent.

But the reality was that this was a soul within the broken shell of a man who was reaching out to be loved and understood by those souls who also traveled in broken containers. In the vacuum of existence where intimacy is a hard currency to accumulate and even seemingly harder to hold, this man tried to create a common plane upon which to walk by pressing others upon which team they rooted for.

As I stared I saw how time stole.
As I stared I saw time’s toll.
As I stared I wondered of those who are alone.
Whose family are those who inhabit the train.

Cold morning’s no match for the sting of death
Nor rhymes or reasons away from the city
Where lives entwined pulse with radiance
Warm smile, strange questions, strange people, cold streets.

No family for those whose lives are lost,
Whereas I stared and saw time steal.
As I stared I saw time demand.
As I stared, I hoped for those who are alone.

Whose family are those who inhabit the train.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New year's resolutions...

In the vein of Jonathan Edwards, I too have resolutions to make:

1. I resolve to update my status even more on facebook ("our day to day chores should not be interesting to other people...")
2. I resolve to not get any more parking, speeding or moving violation tickets this year
3. I resolve to quit making fun of what other people name their babies (if you have to don't ask)
4. I resolve to never be duped by carnival cruise lines again...ever...
5. I resolve to use most of the 30 days my company is giving me as paid vacation this year
6. I resolve to buy fewer groceries
7. I resolve to Become a Better Me
8. I resolve to wield the power of words like the power of greyskull
9. I resolve to not have a baby throw up on my face (scroll to the second picture - thanks Jess!)
10. I resolve to not use baby paraphernalia as life saving devices