The Subway And G-d: A Poem

I’m not a poet.  But today I wrote a poem.  I hope you will forgive me for sharing it with you.

Rolling on the subway.
I used to be moved by this feeling:
the way it would speed up,
and under my body I would feel every bump
as we sailed along.

And the way when it stopped,
my body would angle to the side.

And how I’d watch all the people,
seeing their faces;
some happy (usually the tourists),
some just going about their day.
All different, all bubbling with vivacity, all going somewhere.

And now, no more.
The bumps, I don’t feel them.
The stops, I move with them.
The people, I ignore them.

I’m in my bubble, like a real New Yorker.

And sometimes, every now and then
I’ll realize it,
and I’ll wonder what I’m missing out on.
Am I wrong to focus on something else?
On my writing.
On my reading.
On my thoughts.

It seems a shame
To sit in a place of wonder,
and to be “doing”,
to be distracted.

Wouldn’t it be better
To remind myself of the beauty
every time?

I wonder the same thing about G-d, you know.
And Judaism.
And everything deep.

I remember when I first got on those trains.
When every prayer, every lesson learned, every discussion
was a chance to fly into Heaven.

Back then,
every bump on the ride was a glorious moment
of reflected beauty, coming down from on high.
When the train carrying my soul would sway,
I would feel every high, every low, every special moment…

And I would rise.

But now the prayers are normal,
The learning is routine, and
G-d is a fact, not abstract.

I’m on the subway again,
I’m not noticing the beauty,
I’m just doing, just going, just living.

And again, I wonder…
Wouldn’t it be better
to remind myself of the beauty
every time?

Every time I prayed, to see it all
Every time I studied, to fall down from G-d’s existence
To fly up in Heaven with the angels
at the thought of the immensity of reality?

The answer to both, I’ve realized,
is the same.

When I get on the subway now:
I write,
I read,
I think,
I do.

The subway is my vehicle for changing the world
where I write a blog that changes people
where I read the Torah and articles that change me
where I allow the beauty around me to enter the work I do.

And so it is with G-d.

When I pray now,
when I study now,
I don’t see the beauty…
because I’m in the beauty.

I’m rolling with it,
I’m a part of it, not an outsider.
Not a tourist: happy, jaunting, but not participating.

The subway
Now they are real to me
Now they are a part of me
A rolling, rollicking ride

But a ride that expresses their existence.
A vehicle towards a deeper world than beauty.
Where action
and the beauty of the ride
and out comes the essence of everything within.

Where life is not defined by the emotions I feel,
but the reality I consume,
and the truth I share.

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