Lovingkindness or How to Love the Pole Hugger on the 1 Train

crowded-subway Most of my friends know me as someone who is very concerned about subway etiquette.  The most recent NYC Transit Authority campaign on this very subject warms my cockles (if cockles can be warmed with temps of 2F and 1F).  But I don’t need a big, fancy, ad campaign to tell me what I inherently have always believed in: be aware of the people around you.

Obviously, this does not work in a crowded subway.  And with busy New Yorkers who have to go go go.  What typically happens is that I play contortionist, making space for others and then end up either outside of the train, in the middle of the train with no pole to hang on to, playing the very challenging game of snowboarding subway.  Yea, you know what I’m talking about.

And, over the years I have become increasingly frustrated, anxious and really stinkin’ mad at people who seem to care more about themselves and not anyone around them. Anyone.

And suddenly it’s my favorite time of the 28-day meditation challenge: lovingkindness; and I retell myself the example Bob gave.  [paraphrasing here] You’re on a subway car and an alien spaceship zaps the ends of the car.  And the people that are in it and yourself are going to be together for ever.  

Suddenly, I don’t want to yell at the young woman who is using the pole as her back rest; I don’t want to turn to the guy sitting next to me and ask him if he has some sort of inflammation in his nether regions and that is why he is taking up three seats; I don’t want to shove the one two boys blocking the doors, not letting anyone in, not letting anyone out.

By practicing lovingkindness, my reaction to my subway “pet peeves” is different.  I may not have gotten to the point where I feel sympathetic joy towards some of my fellow riders, but I remind myself that we all want to be happy and we’re all connected to another. And we will be in that subway car for ever.