When I was in high school I went on a ski trip for a weekend.
We stayed at a chalet so close to the hill I would just ski my way there. A friend managed to find this shuttle to take her to and from the base of the hill. It seemed like every time she needed it, a bus would appear to take her where she wanted to be.
We started calling it the magic bus.
Public transportation has always had a kind of magical quality to it. I’m from a small town where public transportation doesn’t exist. The nearby city I lived for a few years wasn’t much better—not populated enough for an underground system, and too spread out for efficient busses. When I’m in places with adequate public transportation I can’t help but feel a bit of awe. All I need to do is step on and someone does all the work of getting me some place. See? Magic.
I’m about to move across the city, which means my commute to school is about to increase exponentially. I’ve been thinking about all my favourite things to do while riding public transportation.
Here’s what I’ve come up with. Add your own suggestions in the comments.
I know not everyone can always tune out the hustle and bustle of people around them in a public space, but sometimes, if I’m in the right mood, a bit of meditating on my ride slips perfectly into my day.
Who says meditating has to be me, sitting in lotus in front of my altar? Watching one breath fade into the next as my body relaxes is good enough for me—even with a flurry of activity around.
2. Read. Like a real, made of paper book.
I like this because it’s quaint and fulfills my notions of what riding on the metro means. Sometimes I’ll read things I have to and sometimes I’ll read things I want to. Nestling my nose into paper and ink creates a bubble around me that feels different to me than the electronic bubble I also wrap myself up into.
Extra points if you’re standing up combating stop-and-start jostling with every page turn.
3. Read electronically.
Some people I know love their Kindles or any other insert-e-reader-device-names-here. There are arguments they create less environmental waste than paper books. With the amount of e-waste North America illegally ships to China, I’m not 100 percent convinced of that, but I don’t disparage anyone who makes that claim. I also do my share of thumbing through my smart phone screen reading articles while travelling.
4. Imagine everyone is Krishna.
Or the Buddha or Christ or Divine Light or whatever else floats your boat. Basically, imagine everyone on the bus as their essential self—the very same part that connects all of us together as one. I find this to be a positive use of my imagination.
When I stop and cultivate a sense of the sacred in my everyday life, I feel a depth of gratitude that can launch me into a peaceful and compassionate mindset.
5. Keep up to date on my correspondence.
Emails sometimes have a tendency to pile up. Texts sometimes go unanswered for days. I have a cell phone with a data plan and I’m not afraid to use it.
Sure, there are moments I wonder whether or not I’ve fallen over some abyss into the realm of addiction to electronic devices, but those emails won’t answer themselves now will they?
When I have a focused intention to respond to things that need to get done—and the limited time-frame a bus ride creates—I’m less likely to get sucked into internet land when I open my Facebook inbox.
6. People watch.
Of course there’s always the age-old introvert fall back of making up stories of all the fascinating people that ride the bus.
Those chattering girls in heels and skirts? On their way to a ladies night full of mystery and intrigue. The elderly woman with her grocery cart? She’s lived in seven different countries and has stories that would top any Hollywood blockbuster. And that father with his young son? They recently moved here to start a new life after joining the witness protection program.
Okay, sometimes I can get a little dramatic. It’s all about sharpening that imagination.
Unlike my high-school self that wanted to dream a little when faced with my friend’s “magic bus,” I know that public transportation isn’t fanciful. It can be a gift of time we’re given. How else can we spend it?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Guenevere Neufeld
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Flickr / Simon_sees