Saturday, August 1, 2015

Like Ships in the Night (to be Cliche)

Instead of apologizing for not blogging in 2 months, I'm just going to start writing. Okay? Good.

One of the reasons I love public transportation so much is all the passing moments. 

The moments when another bus or train passes you going the opposite direction, and you look through the window and see all the other people who you have never met and never will meet, headed down a different road.

The moments when two different trains stop at the platform at the same time, and some people get out and some people don't and everyone is rushing around, ignoring the tornado of other people who are so different in life and trajectory but so similar in soul.

The moments when you are waiting for something, be it train or bus or car or rickshaw, to come and take you away, and you're all standing there waiting, but you don't know if these other people are going to go your way or their own. But for just a minute, you are both sharing the same space and time and experience on what happens to be a small intersection of your various, otherwise diverging lives.

They're so bittersweet, these passings. I started really noticing them on my mission, when I simultaneously wished to know everyone but was also terrified to speak to them. They remind me of how small I am in the world--how many billions and billions of people there are besides me. They remind me of how they all live such different, fascinating, wonderful, terrible, depressing, joyful, lovely lives, and all I get of that is an impression and my own imaginings. That's not even enough to make a memory from, usually. I will never meet them and never know them, no matter how much I want to. I had that one fleeting glimpse of them.

That's it. 

While you might brush with those people again, you will never know for sure. You hear stories of people getting married and watching old family videos and realizing that when they were 5 they were in the same park on the same day with different parties and went down the slide right after each other. But who is to say that you rode on the same train on the metro, just a few cars down? Who can prove that you had a near brush when you hopped on the same bus line but you were going north and they were going south? But then again, who is to say that you didn't? Yet even if you do meet again, and recognize each other from the blurry whiz of finger-painted passers-by, they'll be different then, and so will you. 

And that, both the differences and those very brief microseconds of commonality, is ambiguously beautiful.

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