Where does my personal space end and yours begin?
How does radiance bloom in a crowded room?
Five minutes alone in a closed bathroom stall, aching to tame the chaos – boundaries dissolve in steady breathing – sense of self and autonomy, claiming. How do you re-emerge and keep it shiny?
Thirty seconds, pausing and centering on a densely populated subway platform – is that one long breath or shallow successive give-n-takes, panting? So many lives overlapping, so many frequencies and beacons and desires and quests and injuries and triumphs convening. Where does my joy begin and where does it end? Concentric circles of coexistence: a physical body, a nebulous emotion, a persistent thought, a life story, spinning all the stories that make it or break it.
Many years ago I was a regular commuter on the Midosuji line in Osaka, Japan. Daily rides to and from an expensive pillbox of an apartment to work I found rewarding and draining – on the subway, packed in. Sweaty in summer, bulky in winter, a “gaijin” in any season: the option to blend in and tune out, never mine. This was the raw material of my day and when I speak about siphoning the power of what-is, this is the scene I recall with affection where I first practiced doing just that, on purpose.
Resisting the constricting, confining, awkward truth of the ride only made it more miserable. I learned to milk it and jive with it instead. To lean in and listen, find the harmony and merge my song with it.
The salaryman behind me had the luxury of an overhead handle to hold while I stood squashed in the middle, just beyond reach of artificial stability. I let myself go, shifted position, stood (or levitated?) back-to-back with him. Our car lurched, rounded harsh corners, the masses shuffled and regrouped, held onto their manga and solitude; he leaned back. Our strength doubled. Using another man’s back like a vertical desk, I held a notepad inches from my face and ran a pen over it and did the thing I love doing: I wrote about what it means to be human.
Presence is passage. Radiance is authority. Love is liberty. To find even one bead of affection hidden in stale mundanity – to garnish misery for the funds needed to elevate passion – this is where I begin and begin and begin and begin.