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Gail Silver: Blog

For The Woman On The Train

Posted on January 2, 2016 with 0 comments

For The Woman On The Train


I don’t know you, but “May you live with ease.” That wasn’t the first thought that came to my mind, nor was it the second. It took a while for me to get there.

I had several bags to take down from the overhead bin. The train was swaying, and after I set down one of my bags, I fell against your seat. Our bodies didn’t touch, but my hand and the weight of my body fell into the top of your seat, strongly enough that your seat moved, and for a moment it seemed as if I might fall onto you. I looked at you, and said, “I’m sorry.” You didn’t look up at me, and you didn’t say, “that’s okay,” as I thought you might.   You just stared straight ahead, not making eye contact with me. I returned to my seat (several rows behind you) and waited with my other bags while the train pulled into 30th street station.

I didn’t want to fall into your seat. I felt badly about it and thought badly of you for not telling me that it was okay, for not giving me what I needed. I silently called you a choice name or two, while longing to be absolved of what I’m not exactly sure. I chastised myself for my own thoughts and needs. Then, I remembered your eyes, and the fear in your forward stare. I thought, maybe you aren’t well. Maybe this is your first time out in years.  Or maybe you can’t speak, but that explanation didn’t make sense because you could have easily smiled or communicated with your eyes if you couldn’t speak. Maybe you don’t like to be touched by strangers or you don’t like the apprehension that can accompany an imminent physical encounter. Maybe you have deep fears, and our near collision touched upon one of them. Or maybe you’re like me, and you easily get motion sickness and vertigo. I know I would not have been okay if someone had abruptly fallen into my seat and made it move the way I had yours. I might have said, “It’s okay,” and attempted a friendly smile, but I probably wouldn’t have been feeling so okay.

The train pulled into the station and I walked up the aisle toward the exit door, wheeling my bags toward the one I had left by your seat. You had a book on your lap. It wasn’t there before. You were reading it. It was bright white, and new, and I looked more closely to see the title, The Emotional Freedom Workbook. I softened and smiled inwardly, lightening a bit. The Emotional Freedom workbook, I read the words again and stood behind you watching you read. You finished a chapter and began the next.

        May you be happy.

May you be strong.

May you be safe.

May you live with ease.

May all of us (as we move through our moments with little knowledge of what each person we encounter carries with them or lugs behind them), live with ease.