As one who preaches that we need to find peace and joy wherever we find ourselves, I still have to admit commuting by subway in NYC can be a huge challenge in that department. But once in a while, there is an amazing reward for my efforts.
The tail end of the evening rush hour is always a bit more rushed - 7 something means we’ve had a long day and can’t wait to alight someplace restful, or fun. Amidst the river of humans heading both up and down a staircase, a man with a cane was trying to make his way down the "up" lane. Wonderfully, without grumble or pause, we all shifted and cleared his way, which required a few “slow dance moves” between people moving in opposite directions.
Now, one of the bad habits I battle in public is the impulse to prejudge people by what I see in a second. Add this to the fact that I am particularly sensitive to smells, you an imagine my concern in the moment when I found myself, in that moment, in a fleeting pas-de-deux with someone who could only be described as -- echoing Amy Pond’s description of The Doctor -- “a raggedy man.” With no time to hold my breath and no inclination to be the buzzkill of this lovely interlude, I performed my part with grace and approached the top step expecting endure an olfactory assault.
And smell something I did, but nothing unpleasant. Scents are amazing at evoking time and place, and this one took me back to age 3. It’s a kind of herbal fragrance that permeated a special toy store I loved for its plush wildlife, and lingered in a couple of the stuffed animals I was lucky enough to have been given. It reconstituted a feeling that later evolved to become my deep affinity for animals, which is still a large part of my life.
I turned and caught a glimpse of this fellow before the descending passengers encircled him, his clothes were well worn, a clean and cozy mix of plaids and solids, his hair was a cloud of auburn curls. I wished I had seen his face…
Your world has been magic all along. The real miracle is seeing it differently.