Waking up to a quiet, calm cool air. Orion hangs in the low east, his sentry duty all but done for the night. Though his broken heart goes know where, he will fade with coming light for the new sky and new day. Soon, warm colored oranges will leak on their own accord from the lighting east. As Apollo’s steeds begin the lighted ascent, so too do rise households, streets, and highways.
Then, we are off to races. Some the rat race, some the race to help others, some, wishing there were no races at all. My busy highway days were eased many years ago with a simple thought and not so simple change in habit: from car to city bus. I now Embark to work, a happier, more enlightened sojourner.
I am one of those fortunate persons who has easy access to Embark and can get from home to OCCC with public transport-with a little help from my trusty steed-my bicycle. Working on 15 years as a bus rider, I figure I have hundreds in extra car expense savings, I exert my consciousness about climate destruction, and I leave the driving to them, the wonderful bus drivers of Embark. If I average all the extra reading time I get riding, I estimate reading at least an extra 100 books in my life. All in the early morning commute. Sunlight all around. And no bus ticket particularly needed for living your own intelligent life.
Some years ago, I saw a wonderful New Zealand film, Whale Rider. About a young Maori girl coming of age and coming of wisdom to lead her tribe someday. Yes, she does ride a whale, so in relation to her wisdom found as whale rider, I will be bus rider. With wisdom to impart.
- Patience is a virtue (and the next bus will come). Without lots of inner work, I will find myself impatient at almost every turn in life. Not a great look for a lover of Zen. But, indeed, I have deepened my trust that waiting for a bus, on time or late, is a time I control by my choice of thoughts or actions. Sure, I can be frustrated or mad or mumble under my breath if the bus is late. Does it bring the bus earlier? Does it sanction the reasons why a bus may be a bit late? Change the reality of the situation? No, no, and no. So, the sunlight comes and pushes out the shadow. All I need to do is be patient and use my mind or my time constructively or just enjoy the down time for myself. Wisdom at the bus stop. Who would of thought?
Ride the whale. Give your judgmental mind a rest. Just breathe, take in the things around you, and be grateful for whatever that is. To the meme of this column, there is always a light behind any shadow. Most of the shadow is mind-produced. Whatever seems wrong at the time will have a few, positive generalized characteristics: one, it will pass. Two, solutions can almost always be found, though effective solutions may call for patience itself. E.g., going to school is a long process, a waiting for a degree or certificate to bring in more light to your life. You are at the bus stop, you are at OCCC. The bus will come. The end purpose will come. The light of your education will always be with you, even in the doing and the waiting. You only need to wait with patience and a reflective mind and heart.
- Reliability is a virtue (timetables have their place). Our OKC city transit was founded in 1966. One of the first things our college did at its founding in 1972 was arrange a bus route for the college. This is amazing and WOW! if you think about the daily routes, running without break except for a few holidays a year, bus route after bus route after bus route, day after day after day, for some 56 years. And I may say, the service only improves. Natural gas buses, wi-fi service, the coolest streetcars in the country, new visions for better express service so that more people may ride with convenience. Not missing a beat for 56 years to serve especially the most-needy of our city with the absolutely essential need of transit. And no fanfare and even little community or political appreciation.
How can we bring that virtue into our own lives for serving better our unique essential needs? Your own answer to that of course, but some generalities. Realize that the basics in life can be covered with organization and maintenance and commitment. How OCCC has kept its student-centered quality education for 50 years. How a college graduate finds himself or herself walking across a graduation stage. How an educator remains intellectually active and curious. How the needs in life that get no spotlights are met with life-growth and success.
- Knowing the Other (rub elbows with those different than you). So, it is 6:15 am, bus 12 is on route to OCC, a cold, dreary February morn. The bus stops and a young woman in a Burger King uniform enters carrying an infant and with 2 toddlers in tow. I can only guess she is getting her children to family or daycare before her shift begins. I am totally awed and inspired! 6:15 am again, and I am having a conversation with a recently released DOJ inmate, riding to his job in the Stockyards. Any veering from his appointed routine, and back to incarceration he goes. I have a new-found empathy! 8:30 am on a pleasant spring day, conversing with a childcare worker, listening to a strong, courageous soul overcoming abuse and poverty. I am overwhelmed in compassion for the human spirit! Watching the ticks and speech barriers of someone struggling with addiction. I am witness to t struggle! Getting to know insecure students as they begin their learning journey at OCCC, riding the bus. I am in community!
Contrary to being in my 2-ton car, air-conditioned/ heated seats (I do love heated seats!), cruising, listening to KUCO classical music. Nice. Except. Dangers of driving, carbon production, and separated from the relationship of others-unless maybe through road rage or hand/finger gestures. Shadow. No wonder selling our car-driven way of American life takes so much expensive advertising. I get not to think much in my car. The bus is a completely different experience. There, thinking (about others) is a rich life experience.
Not all of us have the convenience of public transport, but we can all reach out more to those of social or political differences. We can read writers of different perspectives and experiences. We can ask to sit down at a coffee shop table with someone different looking. We can live in an attitude of being curious and caring for all the others that make-up so much of an enriched life.
Sometimes, a simple, particular change in habit or routine changes everything. Riding the bus has been that for me. Let riding the bus-or riding a whale- be a metaphor to serve you in your own transit from where you are to where you are going. A meaningful relationship to nature, to the other, to your self-integrity, to your education and social contribution. Travel well on life’s streets and highways because they really are your KNOW THYSELF map.
Professor Stephen Pete Buttigieg Morrow.