Doing the Best We Can

New York Subway Platform

Standing on the 42nd Street Subway platform late last night,
I saw a man
Older, somewhat disheveled, unshaven, ungroomed, in old clothes.
He was smoking and walking toward me.
Being the Son of a New York City Cop, I have an instinctual homing device which moves my feet away from potential danger.

If he is smoking in the subway, which is illegal,
he might not respect other laws like the one that says not to kill anybody.
Crazy? Perhaps.
But I have survived living in New York City for over half a century.

As he got closer, I could see that he was, in fact, smoking an electronic cigarette —
I was not aware that these enable one to exhale smoke.

He was agitated, but it became clear to me that this was the withdrawal from nicotine.
He intended no harm.
And the maniacal look in his eye had to do with his wrestling his own demons
and nothing to do with me.
He squatted down while waiting for the train, and wrung his hands, as he continued to deal…
I admired him so much.

I looked around the subway platform and began to notice others, as well…
Doing the Best we can
All of us, myself included
Struggling to Let Go
Struggling to Be Better than Who We Are

Releasing our Shenpas, as PEMA CHODRON calls them.



Releasing that urge to scratch,
to drink alcohol in excess,
to overeat,
to smoke pot,
to speak meanly to others,
to smoke cigarettes…
We all struggle with our shenpas.
And Last night, on that subway platform,
I could see that we are,
All of us,
Doing our Best…

And I was proud to be a New Yorker
Proud to be Learning and Growing and Struggling,
And Trying and Failing and Trying Again…
Proud to be a Member of the Human Race.

This disheveled man
In this moment, even Triumphing
though he might not have described himself so…
I was scared of him at first.
But then it was revealed to me…
Our Commonality
His Great Humanity

He was Beautiful…


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