Finding Peace

It’s a chilly, gray Tuesday morning. I’m running late as usual, fueled only by caffeine and my desire to not miss my train for the second morning in a row.

As I walk quickly to the train platform, my hair is tossed by the wind. Although I would like to imagine that this is sexy – tousled hair, confident walk – the grim reality is that I probably look more like this:

Lovely photo, n’jes?

I like commuting via train. I started taking public transit in October, after driving back and forth from Edmonds to Bellevue for the first month at my new job and finding myself feeling slightly homicidal. To get from my house to my office, I catch the Sounder train in Edmonds, which takes me to Seattle. I then walk a block and catch a bus that goes across the I90 bridge and into downtown Bellevue.

The bus is okay, convenient but also incredibly crowded most mornings. The train, on the other hand, is bliss. I have no idea why, but most morning commuters prefer aisle seats and will make me climb over them to sit by the window before they will ever entertain the idea of simply scooting over. Although I am anything but graceful and half the time I stumble over the person grudgingly letting me sit next to them (you do NOT get two seats to yourself on a crowded commuter train, you jerks, so just get over it and share), I’m happy to have the window seat and the view of Puget Sound.

Even mornings like this rather dreary one are strikingly beautiful to me. In nearly eight years living in the Northwest, I’ve never failed to find myself overcome by how breathtaking it is here. Looking out at the Sound brings me a feeling of peace and tranquility that I find myself desperately needing these days.

Am I the only one feeling the strain of a lot of digital animosity lately? Last week there was yet another school shooting, but this time the survivors are speaking out and demanding action. It’s so refreshing, and it fills me with so much hope. But for as good as it makes me feel that maybe this time something will actually be done, the fact that people are talking about the shooting also means that people are arguing about how to stop shootings. And because these arguments are taking place online, people are cruel and ruthless.

I don’t mind a healthy debate, you guys…I actually love acquiring new information. I have changed my mind about pretty nearly every view I’ve held in my life – my politics, my (lack of) religion, my dreams for what my own life will be. And I changed my mind on these things because I received new information that swayed me.

Notice that I didn’t say I changed my mind because someone argued with me on social media or insulted me? That’s because arguing with people on social media and insulting them isn’t going to change their minds. What it IS going to do is make them defensive. It’ll make them tune out. It’ll make them dig in their heels.

I’m aware that my view of the world isn’t traditional and that my views are typically in the minority. I’m used to that, and because of it I don’t really put much effort into trying to persuade people to adopt my ideas as their own. Short of when I see someone causing harm, I don’t make a habit of calling people out.

Sometimes I need a reminder that the world isn’t really this angry, volatile place. And so this morning I put on some soothing music, turn to the window, and look out at the beauty of Puget Sound. I cannot really describe how soothing this is for me.

My focus now is to add as much kindness to this world as I can, and to use productive tools such as my vote, my participation, and my dollars to support the things I believe in.