On the Bus


Most of the time people are about as graceful as a blind, one legged, drunk penguin (one assumes the penguin lost its leg due to its poor sight issue, and then just decided to hit the bottle hard when faced with all the horror the universe had thrown at it...). Oh, they coordinate (more or less), things like avoiding each other in the street (while often successful note how, for the vast majority, the moment they are distracted by something personally important they will drive through all and every in their efforts to content their needs), like driving in straight lines, like queuing, but the frequency of their ‘clumsy’accidents, shows them to be too impatient, too selfish, too needy to be graceful – in the fullest sense of the word (and even those who can maintain such fluidity find it difficult to maintain ad infinitum).

Manipulation not only requires tools, but materials to work upon (there is something pure and neutral about manipulation – the word, despite whining to the contrary, holds no inherent evil, but can be used or abused equally; it all depends on the hands holding the tool)... An intelligent man can be manipulated by the truth, a moron by [obvious] self-gratification, and everyone, to a greater or lesser degree is both workman and material.

I was on a bus. While not overly crowded all the seats were taken and I found myself holding onto a rail, looming over a man who had decided his bag was more important than any of the passengers (I presume we should have all been grateful to be allowed into the presence of such a bag). I stared at him... he looked back. I transferred my gaze, for a lingering period, to his bag, and then slid my eyes back to him. His hand twitched. I looked over his head, shifted my gaze to unfocused (a contemplative expression), and allowed a dark, knowing, sardonic smile to cross my face. He clearly understood the message as after a little more hand twitching he moved his bag to the floor.

I had not even glanced at the child, a young girl of perhaps ten, standing at my side (my peripheral awareness being very good – and unfortunately reminding me of prey rather than predator). I lightly brushed her shoulder with a fingertip and nonchalantly gestured towards the vacant seat. Without looking at me, in fact without ever acknowledging my presence, she slipped into the seat for the remainder of the journey (I also only paid her the smallest, momentary glance of attention). Finally, the female companion of the man who had moved his bag leant her head upon his shoulder.

Those were the facts, but what really happened... The man had to be intuitive enough, empathetic enough, to understand what I was thinking (on someone without an intuitive presence, on someone without a normative ethical upbringing, on a sociopath, my manipulation would have left the materials untouched), but essentially the man would not have taken the initiative, and had I not set to work the bag would [likely] have remained on its throne for the duration of the journey.

The interaction with the girl was far more fascinating, for she, without verbal communication, and very little communication of any kind, correctly interpreted the situation and acted in perfect concert with my intentions. There was no need for gratitude; there was no need for guilt (except perhaps in the retrospective thinking of the man), and there was no need for further interaction.

Finally, did the female companion put her head on the man’s shoulder as a form of comfort and solace, consciously or unconsciously, after he had suffered an ethical humiliation (especially considering I had not taken the chair for myself – which is presumably what the man thought I would do, what my intentions were – but immediately volunteered it to the girl), an act he was unlikely to interpret as a charity, or was it a loving act inspired by his charitable sacrifice of his bag’s throne (or none of the above)?

What I enjoyed most about this little drama (and moments like these are to be treasure almost above all others), was the perfect grace involved in this microscopic play. The non-verbal communication, instruction, and inspiration were about as beautiful as this world presents...


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