21 March 2013

A nice passage on oneness and unity

I was sitting alone on the downtown IRT on my way to pick up the children at their after-school music classes.  The train had just pulled out of the Twenty-third Street station and was accelerating to its cruising speed.  All around me people sat bundled up in mufflers, damp woolen coats, and slush-stained boots, reading newspapers or staring off blankly as the train jerked along the track.  The air was cold and close, with the smell of stale tobacco clinging to winter coats.  An elderly pair exchanged words in a Slavic tongue; a mother read an advertising sign to her three bedraggled, open-mouthed children.

Then suddenly the dull light in the car began to shine with exceptional lucidity until everything around me was glowing with an indescribable aura, and I saw in the row of motley passengers opposite the miraculous connection of all living beings.  Not felt; saw.  What began as a desultory thought grew to a vision, large and unifying, in which all the people in the car hurtling downtown together, including myself, like all the people on the planet hurtling together around the sun--our entire living cohort--formed one united family, indissolubly connected by the rare and mysterious accident of life.  No matter what our countless superficial differences, we were equal, we were one, by virtue of simply being alive at this moment out of all the possible moments stretching endlessly back and ahead.  The vision filled me with overwhelming love for the entire human race and a feeling that no matter how incomplete or damaged our lives, we were surpassingly lucky to be alive.  Then the train pulled into the station and I got off.

Aliz Kates Shulman

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