While commuting from home to work via Metro this morning, I made a startling discovery: to commute in the Urban Jungle, I don’t have to become one with the Urban Jungle.
Typical for a Tuesday morning, it took me forever to get out the front door today. Gaia (my dog) needed to be emptied and then put in her kennel since the housekeepers were coming; I had to do those last minute things you do before the housekeepers come (i.e., moving socks, underwear and shoes from various places in the house to their correct locations in the bedroom). I had to pack my lunch, then I had to go all the way back up two flights of stairs for something else. Then I realized I forgot to brush my teeth, etc., etc., ad nauseum, in perpetuum, yada yada yada.
Once outdoors, I faced a gauntlet of politicians, newspaper hawkers and panhandlers at the Metro, and then with the train pulling into the station, I ran all the way down to the platform. The train pulled in, the doors stayed open all of 10 seconds, and then they closed, stranding 20 or 30 people on the platform (Metro must have been running time trials today, because they did the same thing on the Red Line). Once I got to Chinatown, I let the rush of humanity force me up the escalator and on to the Red Line platform, where people were literally jamming their bodies into stuffed railcars.
And then I paused.
Looking down the platform, I saw about 20 people who also paused to let the crazies rush by. There we were, a brethren of sorts, letting the Jungle whiz by while we waited. The stresses of the commute, and the inevitable bath of negative energy which would accompany our own rides on the cramped Red Line, didn’t seem to matter.
It was, in a word, liberating.
It reminded me of an equally hectic (and similarly uncivilized) afternoon in Phnom Penh as I stood in front of the Royal Palace. A government motorcade flew by, nearly running several people down, and sidewalk hagglers abounded, and yet for one brief moment, it was just me and the palace gate. I stood in amazement at the fact that I was in Cambodia, that I was in Phnom Penh, and that I was standing in front of a Buddhist monarch’s palace – a place I never would have imagined myself standing just a year before.
And as the Jungle roared by, I found my own place, my own pace. It was, in a word, liberating.