Tube Meditation

Can you observe stillness in movement?

I believe you can. Generally on the tube, I am busy reading, writing, or listening to music. There are few moments where I simply observe. But today, for at least part of the journey I did. Of course there were the regulars who had their eyes gazing towards their phones, or some people were reading the paper. Two Polish workmen who seemed to be coming off a day at a job, dirt lined shoes and pants sat across from each other. They barely spoke to each other, but also seemed to be in zombie post-work tiredness.

One woman who wore a knitted scarf, and a knitted pin of a sheep, sat and knitted another scarf. When the train got quite crowded, a man standing was full teeth smiling. He wasn’t talking to anyone, I didn’t see a baby in sight. Who was he smiling at? Is it wrong to question someone smiling for no reason?

I see a woman who looks familiar, she resembles my great-grandmother who died many years ago. She has a tiny pamphlet in her hand. I can’t decode the language from my viewpoint. Is it Korean or Sanskrit ? She is looking down at this pamphlet ? Is she sleeping, or praying as she sits on the tube? She looks peaceful . The woman sitting next to her catches me glancing at my faux great grandma. I smile. She looks away. We can’t make eye contact and smile simultaneously.

The norm on the tube and most subways are to stay confined to your own world, with a solemn face, absorbed in your own activities, while still being alert enough to ward off any lewd mishaps that may occur. Although personal space is non-existent, arms and feet may be touching, but there are no words generally said or eyes that are looked at. Smiles are only reserved for children or amazing musical performers.

We are all being transported the same direction, people flowing in and out of the doors, our minds are chattering, but can we be still?

As I walked out of the tube to my connecting stop, at pure rush hour, I put on my headphones. Sometimes overly crowded spaces where people seem to push each other, I need additional relaxation. The song was “Walk A Little Faster,” by Fiona Apple. Someone strongly brushed past me. If I was irritable I may have yelled or pushed back, but I simply allowed it to happen. Perhaps she really needed to be in a rush.

I can make these one hour tube rides enjoyable, even after a day at work with a two hour commute. Adding an additional two hours to transportation midweek has the potential to be educational and even refreshing.

The joy gained can be during the journey. But if not l, I find it upon arriving at my favourite tube stop: Angel Station. Generally an inspirational or humorous quote is awaiting me at the top of the elevator . And so today it goes…

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