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The baby on the train

I travelled a lot by train during the past two days as I went from south to north of the country and back again. The six trains were fine, and besides being vehicles of transportation, they were vehicles for a window into humanity. I saw some beautiful people. Actually there were so many beautiful people and kind people, and people loving their special people that I was really struck and pleased to be part of this thing called humanity. It gave me hope in a time when, if allowed or directed in a certain way, there is so much noise and hatred being spewed into the public arena.

I am not advocating hiding one’s head and putting on the headphones to block out the big wide world, but I was reminded of phrases and images, and I’d like you to indulge me in a short story of the people opposite me on the first train.

Firstly, she was a beautiful baby. Full of sunshine and absolutely not demanding anything from anyone else, but sat next to her mother and softly sang. She was singing. My first thought was, oh, how I wish I was so comfortable and felt ‘allowed’ to just sing. They I thought, hey, why can’t people just sing? Society? Convention? Baggage of the past? I still must believe deep down that some of those walls are real. Letting go takes time. Back to the story:

This lovely child sang, and what did the parents do?

They smiled and they joined in. Both of the parents joined in. They sang little nursery rhyme songs and later they softly sang full songs and the baby joined in on long notes when she caught on to the structure of the song. It was absolutely joyful.

I smiled and said she was beautiful and how lucky she was to have a mummy and daddy who sang with her.

The freedom of learning to express with music and to be so supported. There is far deeper meaning and transference than just a baby singing. There is a message about learning, an instrumental or musical vocabulary, about confidence and motivation, and about community.

I am reminded of words and the images they invoke:

We the people

1000 lights

laughter spreads

sing out

We are not without voice, we are not without purpose, people are not without love for one another. For me, part of humanity is celebrating those we spend our time with along the way, in our everyday journeys.

By the third train I saw this sign:

and on the fourth train, when I noticed amazing people I told them so. On the fifth train were two beautiful women. I told them so. When they got off two stops later, they were smiling and laughing and they thanked me again and wished me well. None of the other passengers had spoken, except to check directions with whoever they were already with. On the sixth train I smiled at the baby across the way. He waved back. The man opposite sighed loudly and took two headache pills. The baby and I smiled. The baby gave everyone smiles even though few smiled back.

Be the one who takes the risk to smile back.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this, can I share to my networks?

    May 8, 2017
    • Laura #

      Of course you can Mary!! So nice to hear from you 🙂 x

      May 8, 2017
  2. I am smiling too, Laura, the form of human connection that has been around way longer and is much more meaningful than a “like” button.

    As a kid I (naively) found it embarrassing that in public my Mom would smile and strike up conversations with strangers. I have not rationale for this. Teen angst.

    Yet like you I found and still find it amazing that as social creatures, we typically can spend large amounts of time in shared spaces with people, having honed the capability of pretending they don’t exist. The awkward elevator wait. Crammed in a subway. Walking down a crowded street.

    And thus the allure of the mobile phone. It gives us an out to appear “busy” or active with people, while ignoring the real ones adjacent.

    One awakening, maybe 15 years ago, when I lived n a busy suburban city, was waiting in line at the dry-cleaner. Each time, I watched people, mostly white, talking on their phone, not even stopping, and plop their pile of clothes on the counter, while the people behind the counter, mostly brown, took their order. It seemed so utterly rude to ignore service people like they are not people. I made it a point to make eye contact and say thank you. Not always chatty. But just acknowledging another’s human existence seemed worthy.

    It takes little, like the smile. Or just eye contact. An eye-brow raise. A small ironic line about the weather.

    I live in a place now where we wave to strangers was we drive by each other. I sometimes forget when I go to big cities, where the protocol is Ignore All As If Not Present. Oh well.

    And thus I find I learned much from my Mom. Yes, it makes me feel good, to at least break the norm, and get some kind of human connection from another. It seems to have a reverse effect (I have no data).

    I do not do this 100% of the time. Sometimes I just want to settle into my bubble and relax or read. But I especially feel like people who work in service jobs deserve something more than being ignored all day long. A genuine “thank you” works.

    And so online, it’s to me the equivalent if a real, human constructed reply or comment that matters. I find the “likes” and” favorites” and “reactions” are poor, machine, algorithmic proxies for a human acknowledgement.

    Smiling here.

    May 7, 2017

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