It Comes and Goes in Waves

I'd like to say that riding the bus makes me a more empathetic person. I spend an hour each day surrounded by a random sampling of my fellow humans.

But, mostly it just makes me hate this loud, bumbling species I'm a part of. Because everyone who is ... how do I say this ... normal, is sitting quietly waiting in their seats. It's the rude, racist, or just down right ridiculous who are putting on a one man freakshow.

David Foster Wallace said that these "crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell-type situations" can be "not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars."

I know he's right. I'm just too busy convincing myself that the whispering, blue finger-nailed woman is putting a hex on me (true story.)

Yesterday wasn't the first time I've sat next to someone living in a half-way house. As he spoke into the phone, I heard him end the conversation about cigarettes and cologne with this: "We pray for the people in Japan. That their sorrow isn't so great that they give up".

It stopped me. This sentiment of hope and resilience was more poignant than anything I've been able to write about a distant tragedy. 

His words reminded me of what it means to be human. Despite the solitary confinement in our minds, we are never alone in this consuming and crowded world.

(1) on film, full frame on flickr. (p.s.) the big picture | Abby is donating part of the profits from this dogwood print to the Red Cross | Rumi at FashionToast shares her experience first hand


  1. gosh i love your blog, sam. and your heart. we are overdue for getting together. and the bus is awesome and sucks all at once. i was telling an entirely realistic story with exaggerated motions about how i lug 40+ lbs over 15 blocks away each day, running to catch the bus, usually missing it and losing about half of the stuff i'm carrying, all while my daughter is screaming....on the days i make it to the bus, i'm sweating, nearly crying, and my legs are shakey. but i'm laughing as i type all of this.

  2. Beautiful. I drive in a car to work everyday, and I hate it (only drive because I have to). At the beginning of this year my car was in the shop so I took the bus, the train, and walked a mile to get to work for a few days. I felt so much more alive and connected to the world because I was being transported WITH people instead of in a private little vessel. The people-watching on the bus, the way your mind wanders while on a train, and the fresh air and access to nature while walking, even though it was the bleakest part of winter, was so inspiring. Sometimes we just need a break from the routine, a different perspective. I'm glad you found yours.

  3. sam. this is so beautiful. i am so glad you posted this! i have been realizing very similar things lately, all of the beauty and love that surrounds you when you are again convinced of the resilience and compassion of humanity through complete strangers. it makes my heart feel full and heavy in the best possible way. :) can't wait to see you soon.

  4. this is beautiful sam. i love how you notice the little things like this that make this world a lovely place. yeah the bus sucks and is filled with some strange folk, but the little moments like this restore my faith in humanity :).

  5. cara : Your blog is a daily read of mine - so I appreciate that. And, I also appreciate the big smile you just brought to my face. I'm glad I'm not the only one in major-meltdown-mode when I step on the bus.

    Merissa : your comment was as thoughtful as this entire post. I actually read an article recently which said that in cities where people drive a lot, people feel less sympathy for the homeless. "With" is an important word, isn't it?

    Cassy : the universe likes to prove me wrong when I turn I start to feel solitary. I'm glad I have someone like you in real life that brings me out of that.

    Lauren : ha! Me too. "Bus" is a synonym for "emotional roller-coaster"


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