The Metro & Looking Toward Paradise
Been reading some more–Iove 18 minute metro rides. While commuting on a metro, I battle between our cultures need to be completely alone while surrounded by people. Let me explain, when you’re on the Metro you are crowded in by people. Everyone is headed somewhere (obviously–they wouldn’t be paying the metro fare just for fun). You sit next to complete strangers, you’re directly facing another person, and bumping into others all the while. People rush on and rush off as fast as they can, which is completely understandable (a) you don’t want to be late to a meeting/work/home/etc (b) you don’t want to miss your stop (c) you definitely don’t want to get crushed by the metro doors. All that to say, you’re surrounded by people and its busy, some may even call it chaotic. But between each stop there is a lull and people look at the floor, text with their iPhone, flip through the morning newspaper, send e-mails on their Blackberry, escape into a novel, and avoid eye contact at all cost while plugged into their iPods. Again, I get it–I do it too, you don’t know what creeper might strike up a conversation and then follow you home (yes, I still have my “I’m from a small town, and kind of scared by big cities” fears). Yet I just don’t like it. I am surrounded by people–by stories, experiences, wisdom, pain, love–all the pieces that make up a human being. So its hard for me, I even feel rebellious at times, to open up a book. I want to be the rebel that chooses to look forward even if the view is a stranger. I want to sit down next to a complete stranger and not pretend that they really aren’t there. I want to refuse the headphones and just listen–listen to the tourists’ conversations, the mother calming her child, and the muffled announcements overhead.
All that said, while I want to avoid isolating myself while completely surrounded by people, I still do it. I fall to the pressure to blend in, adopt the social norm, and disconnect myself from those who have invaded my personal bubble. Yup, totally done the texting and e-mailing (even when I know I don’t have cell signal…its pathetic), but for some reason I feel as if reading is a somewhat justifiable escape on the Metro.
I started out this blog thinking I would share what I have been reading, and I will. I’m glad I got those Metro irks off my chest and completed a little self assessment as well. In this midst of this battle between whether or not to escape my surroundings during those 18 minute rides, I have hidden away in C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory. First of all, (I promise this won’t be a long tangent) I love C.S. Lewis. What an amazing gift his writings are to this world. Loved Mere Christianity and I often find myself wanting to escape to Narnia (…oh…to be Lucy in a huge fur coat trudging through snow up to my knees…then snuggle into Aslan’s mane…).
I think these blog entries unintentionally hold a two fold purpose: telling you a bit of what goes on around me and a bit of what goes on inside me. C.S. Lewis eloquently and unknowing has spoken on behalf of my heart so I will share his words from The Weight of Glory:
“ In speaking of this desire for my own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you–the secret which hurts so much that you take revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we both desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it, what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it is not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things–the beauty, the memory of our own past–are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking and enchantment as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth…” (p. 30-31).
Thank you, C.S. Lewis. I am surrounded by beauty and my heart is awakened with longing. Longing for a place I have not known, scents I have not smelled, images I have not seen…I long for eternity with my Redeemer, my King.
[I really could have kept quoting him…but I figured it may be a little much to type out the entire chapter or book, my blog entries are already long enough].
I wrote the first part of this blog about the Metro a couple nights ago, and the next morning my need to be rebellious of Metro social norms was directly challenged. I sat down on the Metro the next morning on my way to work and the battle quickly set in: cell phone, book, sit, cell phone, book, nothing…? As I sat down the person in front of me (a good looking guy about my age) said “How are you doing?”
It was so weird–wait, someone is talking. Are they talking to me? I quickly and quietly said fine and then the metro took off. It was that lull part of the ride where everyone awkwardly disconnects themselves from others. So I sat there for at least two minutes trying to figure out if he was talking to me or someone else. The whole cell phone, book, nothing battle still raged within me and now I had an added component, talk to the stranger who initiated conversation with…? So I decided to be my direct/clumsy/blunt self and after the lull passed and we were already at the next stop I finally asked if he was asking me or someone else “how are you?”
Apparently it was me. So we chatted. It was nice, kinda weird. He’s form New York, just graduated from college, started work two weeks ago, lives near me, works near me and asked for my number. Ok, all my moms out there, don’t freak out. I gave him my business card. But again chose to be my direct/clumsy/blunt self and was also upfront that if he and his friends were going out drinking that they probably don’t want to invite me, because it wouldn’t be fun for any of us. We might go running–we’ll see. I honestly don’t care if he does call. But a) it was nice to engage with another human being on the Metro and b) it was flattering to have a really cute guy ask for me number.
Well, that’s my story :)