I was on a Chicago Transit Authority bus on a sweltering summer day filled with humanity at its basic level. I witnessed passengers with overloaded backpacks and shopping bags absorbing the limited air condition and sharing the emotions they carried onto the bus. The heat surfaced mothers anxiously getting their children to summer activities; the average ear-phoned commuter making an effort to hold on to who they are by blocking out the world; timid tourist asking questions of long time annoyed Chicagoans with obvious answers; and fretful elders vying for the seat earmarked for them currently being occupied by an able-bodied ostrich. I must admit I too was agitated as one who uses a wheelchair (actually a motorized scooter) at the various body parts pressed into my face and camel loads of cargo continuously colliding with my face and shoulder. The bus was inflated with hot emotions.
Being the typical human being, I can easily float into the “I don’t have enough mode”. Not enough room for my scooter; not enough atmospheric control from the air conditioner; not enough people parenting their noisy children; you name it and I can find a way to complain about it. So I have to be careful when these emotions are trying to board my emotional bus especially when I’m irritated, confused, feeling doubtful, overwhelmed or just not in a good place. Unfortunately, I’m ever so willing to share these edgy moments with my fellow humans.
So I was thinking how often do I board a bus of my personal emotions and ride around with them all day, week, month, year or a lifetime. My joyful emotions have an unlimited pass on my bus and I gleefully share them with other people. And then there are other non-life giving emotions I hold close as valued friends giving them an open invitation to sit next to my soul. Why do I hold them so close? I guess because they are ever present companions.
Pain rising from fear, jealousy, envy, and denial (to name a few) are passengers that should have limited ridership. It often requires multiple stops on the journey to find the healing balm for the dis-ease. But we can easily pass the stop or not onboard the salve, continuing to abuse ourselves and often passing on the onus of blame to others. Richard Rohr, OFM (a Franciscan priest) says, “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it”. Transferring these emotions to unsuspecting humans can develop into a prolonged drive with profound consequences.
As the bus driver of my emotional bus I think it’s important to take inventory of the passengers and decide when their stop is approaching. Knowledge of the emotions that inflate my tires for a smooth ride or those let me know it’s time to lean on the brake to avoid a collision, make for a life enhancing drive. It’s equally important to know when the bus is off balance with life draining emotions which bounce me over every dip, pothole and crater in Chi-town creating flat tires and placing a drag on my momentum, bringing to an unintended emotion pause or complete stop.
As the one who sits behind the wheel, it’s vital to know when and how to change gears; what stops to make to usher the passengers off the bus and what fuel to add for a peaceful and fulfilling ride. You’re the one in control – make the decision.