So far I’ve discussed some of the emotional and spiritual changes my life has undergone over these past few years. But the question I am often asked is what everyday changes have I made on my journey, how did I go about “rediscovering” who Lisa really is? And while I’ve made numerous everyday changes, there is one, massive change that put so much of my journey in motion. And it is this change, that I will share with you today.
As many of you know, my life is now based around necessity. In many regards, I am a minimalist. I seek to acquire things because I need them, or at least desire to have them for a purpose other than to collect admiration from others. Last September, I decided to take my own personal journey to the next level, and rid myself of a material possession that many of us heavily rely upon on a daily basis – a car. Everyone around me at the time, at first, thought I was joking. But I wasn’t.
On September 6, 2011, I sold my car, re-submerging myself into a part of the community I felt I had abandoned long ago – the everyday man and woman. I made a promise to myself that I would live car-free for at least a year. And I would examine and document how this large alteration in my daily life changed me.
For the past nine months, I have used my feet, my bike, and Williamsburg’s very own mass transit system to navigate my world. And I’ll be completely honest, the first week of this new journey was beyond rough…
I stood next to a sign that said “Red Line.” And I waited, fidgeting anxiously. Almost 30 years of age, I felt like a school kid again. At 7:45 a.m., the bus arrived and opened its double doors, welcoming me into this next phase of my life. And as I deposited my $1.50 into the machine and waited for my bus pass to print, I looked around and examined my fellow commuters; I had a long way to go on my journey to a better life, and a better Lisa.
The bus was filled with a variety of patrons – college students, blue-collar workers, senior citizens, business professionals, and some so strange there was no group to associate them with. Feeling somewhat awkward, I searched for an open seat, facing front, and next to a window, and was happy to find a pairing of seats available. The bus jerked into motion, making its way to the next stop. I sat, silent, observing, and was shocked at what I heard my subconscious say. I was judging each and every single person on the bus. And I’m not just talking about making personal observations, I actually found myself feeling as though I was better than some, no, all of these strangers. Why? I didn’t know anything about them. I took a deep breath trying to remember all the things meditation had taught me, but, still, I shifted restlessly, annoyingly, in my seat and took a look at my watch… again.
I thought I had come so far on my journey, but I realized, in that moment, I really hadn’t come that far. I was still much closer to where I had been than to where I wanted to be.
Over the course of the first two months, I began to learn a new level of patience. I was no longer in control of when I was picked up, when I would arrive, and everything in-between. And I slowly began to wrap my head around this foreign concept and learned to enjoy my “riding time” either by listening to music, audio books, reading, and, after a while, chatting with some of my new friends. Yes, I said friends.
These strange people who I had sought to judge, were actually some of the friendliest, most interesting collection of people I had come into contact with since moving here 7 years ago. They gave a lost college student cab fare when she realized she had taken the wrong line and was on the last bus for the evening. They gave up their seat to a tired, single mother, so that she could, for at least a few moments, take a break. And they smiled and nodded, accepting and welcoming me into their world. If anyone had deserved to be judged on that bus, it had been me.
Over the past nine months, these strange people, for the most part, have restored my faith in humanity. I have witnessed an almost daily, remarkable act of kindness.
The bus has taught me that I don’t need to be in control of my schedule every second of every day. That it’s okay if I’m 5 minutes late, or 10 minutes early. It has taught me that I’m not alone. There are other people who live their lives like me. And I find myself actually craving my walks, with coffee in hand (of course), to the bus stop every morning. It has taught me not to judge. To be more accepting. To try to find something of myself in every person I meet.
Above all of this, the bus has helped me feel like the person I was before I changed. Before I attempted to be who society wanted me to be, who my friends, my family, my ex wanted me to be. The bus has helped me rediscover the good, simple person that I once was. The person I so desperately wanted to be again. I guess she had been there all along. She was just waiting for the right stop to get off.
So, yes, I’m the girl who walks to the bus every morning. I’m the girl who bikes to the grocery store, and who stands in line at the thrift store with a box of mismatched antique doorknobs for a home project. That girl is Lisa. Not the Lisa everyone else wants her to be. But the Lisa that she actually is.
The lesson to be learned here is not that you need to sell your car or do any of things that I do in my life. I choose to live my life the manner in which I do because it suits me. It fits my journey. I seek only to inspire others to find their own unique passage in this often cookie-cutter life through which we traverse. The lesson is never be afraid to change. Go ahead and turn your life upside down and shake hard, you might be surprised at what you find.
Until next time, Happy Living!