Sunday, February 09, 2014

Strangers on a train

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Whenever we sit in a public place, within close quarters of a handful of strangers, on a train perhaps, a bus stop, what is it that connects us all? Sure, a common situation of being wherever we are at that precise moment, where we're going maybe, a physical equality between us all. All moving at the same pace (or not at all), doing the same thing or have the same opportunity to do so in transit. Same sheep or cattle in the same boat.

But I can't help but think we all feel we are secretly in possession of some knowledge which we think makes us better than somebody else. That the guy reading a book about God knows something we don't, that the girl in her late teens puts what she's done with her face today above the choices of everyone else, that I believe the music I'm listening to is a grade above anything else being played in the carriage today. We all look around and without even wanting to, we form a judgement about a person's attitude or lifestyle based on their wonky tie, scruffy shoes, the bags under their eyes, the volume of their music, their tone with their companions, whether they smiled back at you.

When we look, when we see these things which make up these strangers, as human and as damaged as you are yourself, what is it within us which feels compelled to draw comparisons? Comparisons which we know are futile, unfair on one or both of us, and a waste of precious energy.

Worst of all, we sit in silence. We ignore the common ground, the exchange of glances, the hour's gift we've been given and instead spend it in solitude with pointless thoughts about seemingly irrelevant people, strangers on a train.

We could embrace that time, that opportunity, and form real opinions on real substance, or as much as you can get from a short period of time, and discover the preponderancy of lessons we can learn from people we don't know, instead of choosing to mull over the lives we have created for these strangers on the train.

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  1. I knew just by the title this was going to be a great read! I do like to people watch, and look around when at a red light, have a peep who's in the car next to me and wonder where they are going. It's is mad to think we form opinions of others in this way! It's a little a bit of day dreaming to wonder about the lives of others don't you think x

  2. This was such a refreshing little read - I'm dreadful for having a look around and projecting stories onto complete strangers. No matter how fleeting, how nice it would be to strike up a conversation and find out the truth. Or just use the time more productively.
    You do make my brain hop into gear Bee, thank you!!
    M x Life Outside London

  3. I do enjoy your contemplative posts. : )

    Yes, we do all do form opinions, without meaning to or realising it a lot of the time. Although, I wonder if it's always thoughts of superiority; I think I sometimes have thoughts of both superiority and inferiority - the way she has her hair is nicer than mine, the book he's reading is far too intellectual for me to understand. But then, I just go back to what I'm reading, or wherever I'm rushing off to.

    Jen |

  4. You've captured it perfectly - those moments on a train. I only wish I had the balls to just start up conversation with a stranger - think who you'd meet/how much better/broader your little world could be for it! Ah, maybe one day I'll get the courage to be that 'mad chatty lady' we all recognise.
    Bella xxx

  5. amazing post - I am always comparing myself to others e.g. make up, clothes, hair, gadgets. In London with the quiet commuter behaviour it is very easy to judge rather than see our similarities x

  6. Oh i could read your words over and over for forever and a day my darling girl!!!! I loved this. So perceptional and so true. And what is most interesting is how little we realise we even do this, but we do, we all do xxxx