Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Have the Touch

Peter gets it.

 - The woman behind me nudges me lightly with her bag. It feels like the soft nose of a dog in the small of my back. I turn to see if I'm crowding her, and she says, "Sorry." I nod, and shift to my left to give her some room.

- I look up from my book to find I'm being watched by a woman. She holds her own book in her hand. Like good New Yorkers, our gazes meet and slide away, so as not to intrude. 

- As I wait to get on the train, I turn my body sideways to let the passengers get off. Someone bumps into me from behind, impatient with my politeness. I don't even look.

- The train is crowded, and a person brushes my back to get past me to an open space. I have a vague impression of their mass, and then they are gone, and I go back to staring at the ad next to the transit map.

- Another woman looks me in the eye as I scan the train. There is only the slightest flicker of recognition that I am there, but I take it.

- At Grand Central Station, almost everybody is getting off. In adjusting my bag, I touch the sleeve of an older man's gray suit with my wrist. Neither he nor I react at all.

- On the platform, we all wait to ascend the stairs. A person comes a little too fast and bounces off my back. I have more mass, so I don't move, but I can feel their point of impact, a memory of motion. I feel solid like a tree, and I am secretly pleased to be so. 

Amidst the gentle collisions and jostlings of the commute, I am touched, spooned, butted, elbowed, pushed, shouldered, and looked at, and I do so in return. My boundaries are defined and rubbed smooth, like a stone in a river, and the world defines itself by being what I am not, and so on, energy exchanged and grounded and leaked and returned, until I arrive at work.

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