Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Deep thoughts on the bus

I'm not used to riding the bus anymore. I've gotten so spoiled having a car, so while my car is in the shop getting a face lift, I'm hunkering down and learning a few things about transportation, stories, and the value of time.

For one, though riding the bus requires more time than driving a car, and therefore, more preparation, the flip side is that you can enjoy more time in your day. Some of that time can even be spent reading (or sleeping). Whereas a car affords you the luxury (and often insanity) of dashing to and fro on a whim, it's not so on the bus. You can crowd more into your day with a car; with a bus, you accept your limitations. You can't be anywhere you want whenever you want, and sometimes, that means you go less places in the day. When I need to be somewhere, that can be frustrating, but mostly, I'm finding some relief in the limitations.

Riding the bus also offers you several opportunities to encounter interesting strangers throughout the day and brush shoulders with the lives of others with whom you share one tiny thing in common: a leg of the same journey. When you're standing in a crowded bus at the end of a long day and you're tired and wish for a seat, it's a sort of bonding experience to quietly share that with the other passengers who are crowded like sardines beside you. You realize you're not the only one feeling this way. It gets my attention in such a way, like a little nudge, as if to say, "Hey, look beyond your seat. Look at these other (sometimes weary) travelers. They have their own stories, too." It makes me sit up. It makes me wonder what their lives are like and if, as my Dad would occasionally wish to ask strangers, they're living good stories.

Yes, I would say that riding the bus forces me to slow down, to be aware of other lives around me, to appreciate those unique moments when strangers sharing a space connect. I'll be glad to have my car back, I'm not gonna lie. But I think I might continue taking the bus. Not only is it better for the environment, but it's a nice way to put limitations on my day and appreciate the time I have.

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