She races towards the C-train, one hand reaching out to stop the doors from closing, the other cradling her cell phone just below her chin. Just in time, she slips between the closing doors… and keeps talking. Out loud. On speaker. On her phone.
I mean really? It’s bad enough she has to talk on the phone in a just past rush hour, not as crowded but still full train-car. But to keep doing it on speaker phone?
I listen in. I know. I know. But, what else was I supposed to do? She’s standing just a few feet from where I’m sitting and is making no attempt to lower her voice.
She talks about interest rates and annuities, payouts and coupons. The woman on the other end talks about prime and term and all sorts of things finance related. At first, I think possibly she’s organizing a life insurance policy. Which, given she’s talking out loud, on speakerphone, in public on an almost full train-car, doesn’t seem like a bad idea. I hope she gets it in place before the train ride ends. Who knows if she’ll survive the trip?
I look around the car. By the looks on people’s faces, no one else seems to think it’s a good idea. Why does she?
Finally, she hangs up. And checks her phone. There was another call while she was on the last one.
She starts to dial.
And that’s when the train pulls into my stop.
I must write about this incident tomorrow morning, I tell myself and think about all the witty, sarcastic things I can write. I’ll include other things people do in public that drive me crazy and call it, ‘The 5 things to do in public to make sure everyone knows you exist’. And then, I move into my day and forget about speaker phone lady. Until this morning in meditation when unbidden she enters my thoughts, cell phone in hand, talking loudly, oblivious to how she’s crowding my mind just when I’m trying to empty it.
I laugh at myself. Now that’s enlightenment! Here I am seeking the stillness when speaker phone lady enters with her relentless reminder that there’s no avoiding my judgements.
‘Cause there’s the rub.
I want to hold this woman in disdain. I want to chastise her for being so thoughtless, inconsiderate and downright rude. And in my judgements, I am no different. Except, maybe, I do know better. I’m just avoiding what I know to be true. We are all connected. There is no us and them.
She was just doing what she knew. Maybe it was thoughtless, inconsiderate. But what am I doing to create better in the world?
It is the dichotomy of modern day living. To create the world I want to live in, I must let go of criticising, condemning and complaining about others and step lovingly into that space where no matter how someone else is in the world, I seek first to understand. Understanding is the path to finding common ground.
I cannot change the world holding myself as ‘other’. We are not ‘other’. We are all one. How you are is how I am. We are all connected.
Criticizing, condemning, complaining does nothing other than to create a space between us in which I hold our differences as a barrier to our common ground.
I breathe and give thanks. I am grateful for this speaker phone lady who reminds me that in my crowded mind, judgement reigns. To allow for stillness, I must fill the spaces between us not with disdain, but with love for our shared humanity.
If I want our connection to be heard above the din of a speaker phone on a crowded train, I must clear my thinking of my judgements and move with grace into that space where I heed the call of acceptance. There was no ‘us and them’ on that train. No rude speaker phone lady and all the rest of us sitting in judgement. There was only us. Each and all of us, making our way to where ever we’re going, the best way we know how.
It’s up to me to ensure the path I take to get to where I want to be creates more of what I want to have in the world; harmony, peace, kindness, joy, love.