Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meditation Day 2: Crash

“You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48

Today’s Reading: Matthew 5-7

Yesterday was an interesting day.

As some of you know I am a big fan of public transportation. I have been working in downtown LA for several years now and have relied exclusively on buses and trains to get me down there. Besides saving money I feel that riding the metro exposes me to a totally different Los Angeles

It is a true melting pot where business executives may sit next to the homeless, kids in skinny jeans stand chatting above single mothers with their children, gangsters bump elbows with law enforcement and military veterans. The metro has finally become part of the major veins and arteries to the heart of downtown.

There was a movie called Crash that came out several years ago. It was about Los Angeles and what happens when we are forced out of the bubbles of our manicured lawns and single passenger cars through chance interactions with other people. These types of crashes don’t typically happen on the metro, if not for any other reason than that everyone on the train voluntarily left their bubbles when they decided to take public transportation.

But yesterday there was such a crash, and I was right in the middle of the intersection where it happened.

I got on the Gold Line train to Pasadena arrived at union station at around six o’clock in the evening. I was tired and feeling drained and my back was hurting from sitting too long in a chair that is a bit too small. Because of how I felt I was highly motivated to find a seat. Before the trains come, experienced riders strategically place themselves on the platform where they expect the doors to open. It is a tricky mixture of politeness and gamesmanship; so sophisticated that new riders would never notice.

I stood more often than not the first several weeks I rode this train.

I arrived at the platform several minutes before the train so I was in an ideal position to hold down a prime spot. I chose the last door of the last train as I knew that there were two isolated seats facing each other at the end. I enjoy reading on the train and these seats are the best for that endeavor.

By the time the train came the platform was packed, but I didn’t mind. My strategic positioning paid off. I was one of the first three people on the already almost full car. I found my ideal seat, sat and opened my book. My back felt better, I felt better; life was grand.

There was a dude standing right above me holding the hand rail. He seemed like a current or reformed gangster of some sort but he was a nice fellow. We exchanged nodding hellos and I carried on about the business of reading my book.

Two stops later a disturbance occurred.

The doors opened and this loud exceptionally rude man entered the train. By now it was so full that it would be hard for anyone to walk the isles without the obligatory “excuses me” and “pardon me” with each step. But there were a few things different about this man.

He had no manners, offered no apologies, and he was blind.

Yep… dude was blind. He was the “cane with a red tip” kind of blind. Obviously everyone tried to help him wade through the crowd because it was impossible to navigate, even for the sighted, but he wasn’t having it. He literally screamed at every attempt to help. “Don’t tell me where to go I can figure it out!” Of course the fact that there literally was nowhere to go without help escaped him. So he pushed and shoved and tapped and elbowed his way through the perplexed crowd, stepping on several shoes and kicking even more shins. He passed the handicapped seats and headed to the end of the train where the gangster dude and I were.

As the young blind man reached us he slammed into dude so hard that it dislodged him from where he was standing. My man tried to help him by guiding him in the right direction.


To which old buddy responded, “no you don’t… I’m just trying to help you.”

The blind man took a short break from bickering with the alleged gangster to punk me out of my seat.

“CAN I HAVE THIS SEAT!” he demanded.

Presented with the dilemma of protecting my manhood against the challenge of a blind man I decided to get up and let him have the seat.

Rude Blind Man: 1
Manhood and Pride: 0

I stood up and gave him my seat, careful not to tell him where it was because after all, he can see right...?

After bumbling around for a spell he figured it out and sat down. He then continued to fight with the annoyed man standing above him. They exchanged barbs for the better part of ten minutes while the other riders listened on. The gangsterish dude commented on how the blind man must be bitter about life because of how rude he was. The blind man retorted that he wasn’t bitter; as a matter of fact he is happy with his life. He has the best life ever.

More than a few of us were skeptical about the truth behind his words.

The conversation degenerated into terribleness on both sides. The only reason why they didn’t physically fight is because the same pride that made the sighted fellow stand up for himself against the blind dude is the same pride that would not allow him to beat the jerk to within an inch of his life.

The cold part about it is that the blind guy knew it… he used his blindness to bully everyone around him.

It was the strangest of sights. After about two or three minutes of trying to focus on my book I thought for a minute… maybe I’m supposed to learn something here. So I started listening and reflecting on what was happening. I’m still thinking about it but I did realize a few things.

Both the blind man and the irritated, sighted fellow were playing the same part in the same play. Both were bullies in their own right. The blind man used his blindness to command control on all of those around him. He used the pity that so offended him when folks tried to help against those very same people. When the perturbed, sighted fellow fought back he in turn verbally bullied the blind man as much as he could since he could not rain blows upon his countenance.

Finally the sighted fellow stopped as his rage dissipated enough to realize the pattern. He wanted to exit the play.

But the blind man wouldn’t let him. He continued to talk trash to him; and when he no longer got a response, he got on his phone and started loudly talking to some person on the other side about this rude jerk standing next to him and how he had prevailed over him in the recent struggle.

It was quite unbelievable.

From my front row seat I thought about who was right and who was wrong. I guess more accurately, about who was more right and who was more wrong. I sympathized with the sighted fellow. He was rudely bumped into. When he tried to help he was verbally abused by a man who comfortably hid behind his handicap. It seemed to me that it was an injustice that was unbearably foul. I understood why he fought back.

But he was wrong too. He shouldn’t have answered the call to arms. He should have just inoculated himself with love to ward off the blind man’s venom.

Or so I thought. I really don’t know.

That’s what I thought I was doing when I gave up my seat but maybe I just punked out. It’s not like the blind man couldn’t walk. Why was it any more difficult for him to stand than it was for me? He could hold on to the rail just like I did. But he shamed me out of my seat. I didn’t want to be the jerk on the train that wouldn’t give his seat to a blind man. There’s no way that looks right.

In the end I was happy that I didn’t take the blind man’s invitation to the drama of his life. It was as sad a display of humanity as it was maddeningly complex. I am convinced that turning the other cheek was the right move here. Even the furious fellow who decided to fight with him ended up doing the same, at a higher cost to his pride.

It’s just annoying that some people push us to these extremes.

Breakfast: 3 scrambled eggs
Snack: Mixed roasted nuts
Lunch: Home grilled chicken thighs and green beans (leftovers)
Snack: More nuts
Dinner: Pan seared rare albacore tuna and green beans

Beverage of the day… Water


  1. Day 2 was very interesting for me as well. First, I made an extra effort to catch the early commuter, only to wait and wait because the buses broke down. I waited until 8:40 and just decided to drive. I didn't get upset, I just jumped in my car and began to praise God some more.

    Turns out, there was hardly any traffic on the freeway, and I even found a parking lot the charges only $8.00 for the day. You know that is "real" good for downtown.

    Second, there was a smorgasbord of BBQ someone brought in and for some reason, the smell kinda grossed my out. The kicker is, I've had that BBQ before and it is really good.

    Third, I was dealing with distractions all day. For some reason it was just hard for me to focus for too long. I had to press in just to finish my assignment for school. I would have to take praise breaks and then hit it again.

    But through it all, I know God was with me the whole time helping me to keep going and staying focused.

    I did all protein for breakfast and a chicken breast for dinner with lots of water.


  2. Days 2 and 3 of any cleanse are always the hardest... that is when the body starts to revolt. Once we get to day 4 it's as smooth as eggs till day 7.

    I think the same goes for what happens around the fast as well.

  3. I figure if you feel just as entitled and normal as me to cuss me out, why can't I do the same? No use in playing into your "handicap". lol

  4. Exactly.. plus he had two good legs.. I really didn't have to give him my seat...


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