This morning, Q heads west and I head east: we will walk to the train station together, stop at the bank and the post office and then go our separate ways. For the thousandth time, we will give thanks that we live in a place where you don't need a car to get where you're going.
Public transportation is...well, public. You have not carefully selected those with whom you will ride. You don't know them all; you may not know any of them. It is as far from the lone self-sufficiency of driving everywhere all by oneself as one can get, and yet it is completely self-sufficient -- no matter how old you are, whether or not you can afford a car payment and insurance and repairs and gasoline, you can ride. The investment banker finds a seat next to the young man whose earphones don't quite shield his companion from his Hip-Hop serenade, and the younger man gets a chance to read the older man's Wall Street Journal and wonder about what life is like for a person who reads such a thing very day; to see, to his surprise, an article on P. Diddy; to reflect,
perhaps, on the probability that P.Diddy, increasingly Mr. Combs these days, probably reads the Journal every day to manage his many millions. He is far richer than the investment banker. Perhaps life is not as simple as the young man thought. Nor, perhaps, as his older seatmate may have imagined all these years.
The snowy landscape along the tracks whizzes by. The train is a fine place for Morning Prayer: Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, drops of dew and flakes of snow. Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him for ever, sing the Three Young Men of ancient times, and you sing along with them in your mind and ask yourself how much they can have known about snow and sleet. You wonder if perhaps even the weather is not as simple as you think.
Peoples' shoes, some immaculate, some stained with salt and mud and rolled over at the heels with wear. Peoples' hair, carefully combed for the new day or covered with hats or concealed with scarves or catching the light from the morning sun as it pours through the windows. Peoples' coats: identical Burberrys, expensive fur coats, cheap, thin wool coats that have seen one too many seasons and must somehow manage a few more.
You learn a lot on the train. There is much for which a person can pray and never run out of material, all the way in to Penn Station.