Riding Metro North. And Brooding.

6:16 am train to Grand Central. No seats, need to stand. I wait until the first stop at Stamford and then shoe horn myself across from a lady in a bright, pumpkin colored dress.  In order to fit, I need to sit on a diagonal with my knees in the aisle. Pumpkin shifts her knees to the right to avoid contact. The top of her left knee has a deep burn mark, her right knee is clean. Listen, in these close quarters, it’s impossible not to notice. I shift uncomfortably. Personal space inadequate, we’re bordering on claustrophobia here. It’s the trade you made friend, stand for an hour or this…so this is it.

The Suit to my left is asleep. Meaning, like dead to the world. Rip’s hands hug a hard cover book against his chest; a monogrammed cover, title unknown.

I turn to my morning reading. A blog post by Beth @ Alive on All Channels: “These People Are Not Drowning Today.” Pacino in Taxi Driver pops to mind: You talkin’ to me?She’s certainly is not talkin’ to me. My eyes flick down the page and catch a passage from Zen teacher Barry Magid: “Leave Yourself Alone“:

The paradox…is that the most effective way of transformation is to leave ourselves alone. The more we let everything be just what it is, the more we relax into an open, attentive awareness of one moment after another. Just sitting leaves everything just as it is.

Leave ourselves alone.
Leave myself alone.
Relax into an open, attention awareness. 
One moment after another.
Leave yourself alone.
Me. Alone.
Leave yourself.
And go where?

I google the passage to find his post and read on: “It’s not so easy to simply observe who we are. Looking in the mirror, we are tempted to use it as a makeup mirror to touch up the parts of our self-image we don’t like. Our minds are never what we want them to be. That’s part of why we sit in the first place. We are uncomfortable with ourselves as we are. The greatest dualism we face is the split between who we are and who we think we ought to be.

I shift again trying to find a less uncomfortable position. My lower back groans. Pumpkin is now sleeping, her head softly bowed. Rip is motionless. And here I sit, in my stew, failing at my meditation practice. Excuse me, let’s correct that. This isn’t meditation or practice; it is a half-a**ed attempt at something.

I turn back to Beth’s blog post to finish it up. And there’s Martha Beck: “What if your real trouble isn’t the issue you brood about so compulsively, but the brooding itself?

Just sitting leaves everything just as it is.

Leaves everything as it is.

I need a change.

Notes: Related Posts: Commuting Series. Sculpture: мαттeo вαroɴι via (Your Eyes Blaze Out)


  1. So when are you going to take the first step David?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I truly suck at meditat, though I try, I really do. What I can do is breathe – and you can too. Start there.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Nice read and yes agree with your words, leave and just be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s almost always about “the brooding itself”. To leave it alone…the goal.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just Sitting? Doesn’t sound very “Northeast” to me….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an interesting, reflective piece, David.
    I feel this one deep inside my gut.
    Leave everything as is.
    Going back to reread s-l-o-w-l-y….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Or, as my daughter is prone to gently or much more strongly say…”Too much Lisa.” and she has no idea the value I have come to place on her words as my gauge. Happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. get out your bright pumpkin suit and head out into the world –

    Liked by 1 person

  9. bryher1 says:

    I enjoy your writing style on this piece, shifting from internal to external to the content of someone else’s internal (blog posts). It is thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you, I needed this today! 🙂


  11. You might not meditate in the traditional sense of the word, pal, I don’t either, but you do seem to be able to get in your ‘zen place’ when you run. Perhaps you could try brisk walking — fresh air, moving one’s body, yet not so punishing as running, a dog by your side (hint, hint)… You. Can. Do. It.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Two weeks in the mountains, a cabin, walks in the quiet forests, sitting by the softly flowing waters, absorbing the refreshing negative ions from the crashing waterfalls, the bird sounds, the breezes in the leaves, the downpours, thunder and lightning, no crowding of humans, back to where you originated in the arms of your Mother…this is rejuvenation and possibly a plan for one’s future escapes.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. You don’t have to stir the pot all the time but that’s what we’re taught. Idle hands do the devils’ work, etc. The Internet of Thing only makes it worse. Somehow I wake up at 2:56 every morning and things become clear…then me and The Cat sit in silence and ponder… 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I think people worry too much about who they are or who they should be. Do what you feel and what makes you happy, what does something good for the world. BTW, I shuddered when you wrote you shoe horned yourself in. I would hate having to be so crowded with other people. Not a city person here. Country mouse for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • And to worrying too much about who we are, your thought reminds me of:

      I must warn you that being an individual is a high-priced privilege. Sometimes it demands everything. The person who actually succeeds in being an individual, who does make up his own mind and speaks it, who does achieve self-realization and self-expression, may acquire in life a knowledge, a courage and a faith that will help him when he leaves it, when he must go alone.

      ~ Robert Killam, in “Great Occasions: Readings for the Celebration of Birth, Coming-of-age, Marriage, and Death” by Carl Seaburg (Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 1998)

      As to shoe horning in, I HATE it too… Be happy Country Mouse, be happy.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. Your posts David, always well written, very emotive. Sometimes I say nada, they leave me without words – This was one. But, I HAD to return to it.
    Change: is a good thing, its just not at all ‘comfortable. Thats why I’m so brilliant, at the many forms of procrastination 🙂
    We all meditate in our own ways!
    IDK, perhaps your way is when you run. or maybe…. when you’re immersed in your writing.
    Whenever you are – engaged in only, that One Singular Moment in Time.
    I’d call that, ‘meditation’
    Jeff’s comment, brings to my mind that we’re all fed that “idle hands” line until its well and truly soaked into our souls. I RESIST, peacefully, of course. cheers. thank you, for writing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. roseanne333 says:

    Awww, David…you don’t think you meditate? Probably not always in the traditional sense. But yes, you do. You most certainly do. Thanks for these thoughts. Have a restorative, happy weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. God, you’re REAL. I cherish that.
    I used to TEACH medication fer crapsake, but I’m out of practice (literally) and find I can only sit with others now. Thankfully, I have two old friends who are also longtime meditators. We get together as their schedules permit, maybe a couple times a month. It’s enough. Enough to know I can still sit and let my mind alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Half a**ed is better than no a**ed David. It starts with being an observer of others and the world around us, then drawing attention to how we are responding to it. From here, the step inwards becomes easier.
    Trust you are getting there. 💛
    As Martha Beck says, the issue is often with our own judgements about ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Vacation time perhaps? It’s well overdue I’d say. Great post David.

    Liked by 1 person

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