Let me set the scene for you:
The train is stalled between one stop and my stop. We’re basically in a dark tunnel trapped in a tube of metal. It kind of feels like the walls are starting to close in. A homeless man has become agitated and is punching the train doors aggressively while the majority of the subway car pretends it isn’t happening.
This situation is less than ideal.
Insert a man who can’t stop talking loudly about how much this train ride sucks, won’t stop singing kirtan (I’m not kidding) and is talking loudly about how irrationally this clearly drunk character is behaving and things can only get worse.
The fact that this man keeps also talking loudly about how much of a yogi he and his lady friend are only makes me feel smothered by irony as well as stale subway smells.
This bizarre New York Moment brought up a question for me: When was the last time complaining about something improved the situation?
Bitching is pointless and frankly very irritating. If you find yourself in a situation with a group of people where you’re all clearly 1) worried, 2) uncomfortable and 3) annoyed how does you complaining at random to everyone else about how unhappy you specifically are make things better or more tolerable?
Are we not all trapped in the train together? Are we not all concerned that the enraged homeless gentleman may abandon his attempts on the doors and turn on us at any moment? Are me we not, in a term, in this together? So what makes your suffering in this smelly train car worth talking about? Is this situation somehow specifically offensive to you?
Simple answer: no.
Typically speaking there is a difference between discomfort and suffering. You don’t necessarily choose to be uncomfortable, but you can choose to respond with suffering (read: bitching, complaining and moaning) or you can choose to rise above. Ignore the homeless man, close your eyes and go to your enlightened place internally. That does not mean disrupting everyone on the train with your mediocre rendition of om namah shivaya. It means detaching from the situation and accepting it as the moment you are in. It’s not good, it’s not bad, but it sure as shit is. So deal.
My advice: The next time you’re trapped on a train and you want to complain loudly about how much it sucks, think about the strangers around you. Do they really want to get your 2 cents about how much the situation blows the big one? Or are they already thinking that? Could they possibly benefit more from you silent, stoic acceptance of the situation?
Lead by example, don’t bitch and moan!
Happy Sunday, friends. May your train rides be speedy and complaint-free!