Leap Day, 2012: “Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair”

Hello, badly-neglected blog. Remember me? I’ve been feverishly working like a crazy woman on the final, final draft of a book I’d love to finish before this summer. And so, per my usual, Can Only Do One Thing At A Time, have churlishly cast you aside. Please forgive me.

This month I’ve been (haphazardly)  mulling over Joanna Macy’s World as Lover, World as Self. So as a final, February posting—thank you, Leap Day!—get to tell one more story that I think illustrates Macy’s loving, embracing, grace-filled world-view, specifically her “greening of the self.” Which means, as she says, to  transcend “separateness, alienation, and fragmentation,” getting beyond “that skin-encapsulated ego.”

So: One Saturday night, recently, my husband and I got on the Green Line T after attending a chamber-music concert. Like all Saturday nights in downtown Boston, the subway was packed with loud, party-hearty college students. Just as we squeezed on the train, for example, a young woman seated near us let everyone in the car know that when she turned twenty-one, she’d downed, yup, twenty-one shots of tequila. Get the picture?

Two seats away from Tequila Girl sat a heavy, tired-looking African-American woman, perhaps the only other older person in the car besides my husband and me. Looking at her exhausted face, I’d felt so protective, so outraged on her behalf: She’s just coming back from work, I decided.  She doesn’t NEED to deal with these dumb, obnoxious, entitled kids!

But then I noticed something truly amazing. Seated between that tired woman and Tequila Girl was another young woman—she may have even been TG’s friend. And on Date Night USA, guess what that young woman had on her lap? A very well-used, well-loved anthology of Langston Hugh’s poetry!

Just imagining why that young woman was carrying that thick book, just contemplating how the poetry in her book, the woman patiently sitting beside her, and all of us on that car were connected in some deep, profound way allowed me to shed my own skin-encapsulated and incredibly judgmental ego. (Hope you’re sensing this skin-on-the-back-of-my-neck-raising moment at least a little!)


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