I’m riding the CTA Brown Line into the heart of the Loop (what is known as downtown). It is day one of the apocalypse. I mean it is day one of my last year at Columbia College Chicago and it feels like the apocalypse, because who wants to leave CCC. My daily commute is fifty minutes from where I live in Lincoln Square and today I am reminded of the first time I boarded the train into the city. I was originally perplexed by the other passenger’s lack of interest in the world outside the train. I began to fear that I would soon become just another passenger, as opposed to the young, wide-eyed adventurer that brought me here. But that never happened and I still look forward to the train every morning.
Here is why!
The Brown Line is above ground with amazing views like this.
And there is inspiration all around to write poems or quick lines:
Today the train is a vehicle
and the sky blue and blown
and the world
bouncing from star to stone
to our junky noise
out of time
Or a place to do homework, or perform my editorial responsibilities and read the latest batch of poems for CPR.
The train is not something to be feared but embraced for the timelessness of our moment. In 2012, I traveled all over China. I would ride the train for 32 hours straight and what I learned was the celebration of travel. I learned that the moment of between was often more marvelous than the before or the after. Yet, why is this?
Because, I am free from time and responsibility. In this moment of travel I am simply on the journey. I don’t worry about leaving the stove on, because I am here and can no nothing about it. I don’t worry about getting to class on time, because I am here and not driving. I don’t worry about wars overseas, because I am here, and I can only achieve what is in the immediacy of my nature.
I try to practice this every moment of life. That is the moment of the train, of listening and watching the world around me from a point of presentness and immediacy. The world, after all, is a moving spaceship and all of us merely its passengers. This idea has helped me grow in my work and art. I embraced the CTA as a second office, or place of mediation. I resisted the urge to stare at my feet, but instead look out the window.
And I have a very joyous life update: I recently asked someone to join me for the train ride we call life. I asked her to stop time with me.
And she said “Yes!”