Someday I want to say that a splendid work was written in the notes app of my iPhone while waiting for a train, bereft of cell phone service. During the time I wasn't able to access the distraction of the inter web, the mindless scroll of social media and the compulsive checking of my four email accounts. As much as I crave the connectedness, I feel something like liberation when I am cut off from everything, however briefly. Then I charge up the steps into the sunlight or evening dusk to re-engage with the world, rather than lingering in the curated version accessible from my palm.
Much happens when we connect with what is in plain view. We talk to the young mother sitting next to us, rather than longing to be somewhere else on a lavish adventure. We find the poetry in the mundane.
When I was purposefully observing the other day, I got reacquainted with some truths: Laughter out of context is still infectious. Someone is chuckling incessantly in the row behind me and I am desperate to know what they are laughing at. Simultaneously, I don't care what the stimuli is, I feel happier anyway.
People are predominately good and well-intentioned. There is a baby on the train screaming, bone curdling screams. Her mother is desperate to soothe her, all the while feeling judged by the serious commuters, when in an instant everyone in proximity to the little one find their silliest faces and as a community calm her down. I mean everyone including the suave, well-groomed man I see nearly everyday, who never smiles. Until now.
The hum of the whistle makes me feel like a character in The Polar Express. I'm reminded of our family's tradition of reading the story each Christmas Eve and exchanging just one gift before laying cookies and carrots out on the fireplace. We haven't done it the past few years, but we should.
Two teens giggle jovially, picking at their pimples in the reflection of their iPhones and dishing about the latest mean girl encounter at school and picture day. They seem so innocent, unencumbered by the threats all around us.
Across the way an Irishman and his wife are laughing as if the hydrant to their souls had come unplugged. Bursting with glee, sipping on beers and vowing to feign ignorance if they get caught with them. The man jokes that the subway itself holds more people than his tiny town. He observes that everyone's brow is furrowed and looking angry and suggests we try and relax a little more, enjoy the journey. We being the folks sharing the Path car with him erupt into laughter. There are group photos and high fives. They are off to a football match, and to be quite honest for a moment I longed to he going where they were going, or at least to be living like they were living, freely by the moment.
Then I listen to myself again. While it might be nice to be a teen again absorbed in the quandary of school picture day, or sipping a beer on the way to a football match, I have faith in this here journey, where my feet stand. I catch laughter from my neighbor and smile at children. I'm reminded to relate to others, to connect, but not to compare. How do we know with any level of certainty that their story is favorable to ours. And if it was would it matter?
PS: The cake is an Olive Oil Spice cake. I use Botticelli Foods Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The applesauce in the cake was freshly made from left over pears and apples, and a little sugar. Buttermilk was made from milk and lemon juice as I didn't get to the grocery store, although I recommend actual buttermilk. The berry cherry basil mixture was residual from another baking project. It's all connected.