When I was in high school, I travelled by jeepney to my school. There were no jeepney stops then, so one waits by the roadside and hail the jeepney as it approaches. If it’s full, then it speeds by. So you wait for the next one. During the wait, I would entertain myself by guessing the licence plates of cars that approach. Yes, I memorized car details to pass the time. Strange, I know.
These days, I take the 25-minute trip by train to the city where I work. Quite a breeze after those jeepney days. But guess what I do. In between checking my emails and social media sites (and this blog!), I watch what happens around me. This morning, I took my seat beside a woman who looked too tense for a bright sunny spring morning. “Good morning!” I greeted her cheerily. Surprised, she turned towards me with a frown on her face, then her face relaxed as she was met by a smile.
When the train reached the city station, the crowd poured out of the doors almost before they fully opened. Past the ticket barriers. Up the long escalator to York St exit. Some chose to stand and let the escalator take them to the top. Others continued walking up the moving escalator, while talking on their phones or listening to music. Sometimes, I even see others reading something on their smart devices. I marvel at their balance!
As we neared the top, I can hear street sounds mixed with the sound of music from a saxophone. Oh, where is that beautiful music coming from? It was tempting to just stay there and listen to the whole piece. But I couldn’t find the musician in the thickness of the crowd.
Around the corner, I caught up with the escalator-walkers at the lights, waiting for the ‘green man’ symbol to light up. Funny how that happens often.
Some people rushing for what gain?
Joseph Pilates pioneered the method of exercise now named after him. The Pilates technique emphasizes breathing. “Breath in so that you can feel imaginary straps straining around your rib cage as you fill your lungs”, Sharan, the instructor, encourages me on. “Then breath out so you push the air out of your lungs.” I do as I am instructed and focus on the rhythm of breathing. I do this a few times and feel the weariness of the day slowly come off me. As I move through my routine, Sharan intones, “Breathe! Don’t forget to breathe!”
The days at work can be very hectic, meetings after meetings after meetings. Sometimes, meetings over meetings, and the prioritization can be difficult. It can be a challenge to take a pause, gather one’s thoughts and pay attention to what’s going on around me. I apply structure to my day so that I can enjoy the gift of time, maintain perspective, make sure the important things are not crowded by the small ones. I smile when I remember my Pilates sessions and hear the refrain in my head, “Breathe! Don’t forget to breathe!”
“Breathe! Don’t forget to breathe!”