The Destination of Life
One morning, I was riding the train to work.
I was in a packed car and like hungry dogs waiting for the next available bone, many straphangers kept their sensors on the alert waiting for the next seat to become available. Times like that offer great opportunities for the observation of human character and relations among New Yorkers.
Let’s face it; it is a city of mixed races, culture, strangeness and love, yet many harbor some kind of skepticism about the next person. Faces are usually straight and demeanors sometimes unpredictable especially in these times of terrorist tendencies. Of course, there is concern for every bulging backpack or unfamiliar briefcase.
Ironically, as much as many straphangers try to avoid any form of contact with the next straphanger, be it body, eye, clothing, bag, or so, they end up falling, brushing or rubbing against each other since the train had to swing from one angle to another in its bumpy journey. Yet, in the midst of it all, one would always find a few friendly and smiling faces scattered in various corners exchanging pleasant comments as
the packed nature of the train and its bump and grind lead to forced human contact.
So it was that morning as I rode to work. The train came to a stop at one of the stations and as some passengers alighted, two seats became available. Two women went for the seats, throwing themselves at the spot. Each with bag in hand, they struggled to get a better share of the
space. You are probably wondering why the struggle for two seats. Well, it happened that one of the women was a heavyset woman while the other was petite. The big woman probably wanted enough space while the petite woman wanted to capture enough space for her petite frame before the big woman took it all.
Eventually they both got seated but then a quiet battle raged within the petite woman. She was tense all through and seemed to wait for the chance to take advantage of any inch or edge that may become available. All the while, the heavyset woman kept a straight face and remained unperturbed by the restlessness of the petite woman. At some point the petite woman could not hold herself back any more and she blurted out provocative words at the heavyset woman. When the heavyset woman ventured to respond, the petite woman got louder. “Shut up! I say shut up!” she shouted. Painlessly, the heavyset woman kept her mouth shut and continued to avoid any further communication with the petite woman.
Then the train came to the stop where the petite woman was to alight. She got up and gave the heavyset woman a departing look that combined all the animosity and contempt she had for the heavyset woman. Yet, it was as if the more the petite woman threw at the heavyset woman, the more it came back to rile the petite woman. Eventually the heavyset woman got up to leave. It was interesting seeing the expression on the face of the petite woman. After all the trouble, they were destined for the same destination.
Sometimes life and living go the same way. Some of us choose to ride more peacefully by ignoring the provocations we encounter in our daily lives, knowing that in the end what matters is not only the attainment of the destination but the joy of the journey towards the destination. On the other hand, some of us choose to engage in restless bickering and bitterness that only make the ride uncomfortable and frustrating for they eventually come back at us like a boomerang. We set up unnecessary barriers and combats. We engage in avoidable struggles and burden ourselves with the pain and anguish of fighting for something we could have easily shared or resolved by simple understanding, negotiation, love, and forgiveness. Sometimes we even kill for our desire or belief. In the end we realize that the journey of life leads towards the same destination and that all the violence, anger, hatred, and battles could have been avoided for they served no purpose except of course to teach us how much we did not need them.
This is only my understanding and I am still learning.
And many of us there are in life
Who love the trip and enjoy the ride
We keep our cool when faced with heat
Hoping in peace and love, to lead us home
And many of us there are in life
Who fuss and fight all through the ride
We hate and kill for slightest heat
Hoping to make the end, by every budge
And though life destination give
What really counts when all is done
Is not the trip so made at last, (but)
How well is the trip that has brought us home?
©Oliver O. Mbamara,
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oliver Mbamara is an Administrative Law Judge with the State of New York.
He is also a filmmaker and a Published Poet and playwright. For more on Oliver, please visit
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