Every morning I cross the road and every morning I do so with my head down. I’m holding someone up. In Australia, a green light for turning cars also means a green light for pedestrians. And the more vulnerable of us takes precedence. But who is to say that I need to cross before they turn? Who is to say that I need to get to my place before theirs. And who is to judge if I walk fast enough to meet their needs?
Every morning I marvel at the weight of my legs and body as I walk to the bus station. My body is what anchors me relentlessly, consistently and mercifully in the present. It’s the counterweight to my mind that strives to fly back and forth between the present and future, spotting what was and trying to identify similar configurations in the future. And all the while, my body gently guides it back down: a deep breath, a twinge, a returned smile. And so each day, I balance. I walk the line between the world that was and the universe that shall be and the environment of today and all it brings.
Every morning I am glad that I don’t start work until I walk into the office. I am glad that I love my job and am proud of it, but that I don’t carry it as a label on the the bus or train, or as an affair at home. I consider myself blessed to have time to travel elsewhere as my body rests on public transport. I get to ponder at what makes someone peer at the screen two inches from their nose for a 45 minute journey. I get to see bodies set into routine and the mid-gaze transfix as each commuter sets on their travels too. And I wonder where they go.
Every morning as I cross the road by QVB, I see a man. He is one of many and he is but the only one of him. He sits as they all sit, barely meeting gazes, friends solely with the earth as the only support upon which they can rely. He has gentle eyes, peering out behind fiercely weathered skin and unkempt hair. His cardboard sign is an attempt to tell his story but is so laden with instinct overridden by craft and undermined by pain, that is barely touches the souls of those around. Instead they gesture towards humanity by buying the official merchandise of official charities for official causes. And there he sits, quietly in shadow colours waiting to see who will help him nurture his body, just for today, to carry his spirit through just that little more comfortably.
Every morning I wonder at who made it questionable to smile at fellow human beings. As I stride my way to work, revelling in the sun welcoming me to the ambience of the day, I wonder why we can’t welcome each other. As a woman, apparently my smile can be more than an acknowledgment that your soul is passing my soul and that mine wishes yours well. Apparently an upturned mouth can mean a myriad of things and welcome a plethora of unwelcome words. As a man, apparently your smile can project more than an acknowledgement of my soul passing your soul and meaning it well. Apparently it can be an assertion of power, an objectifying laser reducing all it sees to opportunity for consumption. Some mornings I rebel and I smile. I smile at women and men alike. And on those mornings, I smile at how perturbed most become, but at least I know that they were brought back to the present in that moment.
Every morning I get to tune into the stories I’m choosing to write that day, who and what I see and how I choose to process it. I get to see if there are sinister shadows lurking or a buoyancy bubbling in my mind today to shape my waking hours. I get to see if something triggers me into smiles or frowns as a barometer of how I may be doing that day. And as I weave my way through everyone else’s stories this morning, I do my best to write the very best I can, just for today.