Becoming a Better Person

Tis the season. Perhaps Rosh Hashanah is based on a Babylonian holiday, writes Arthur Waskow in Seasons of Our Joy. Every year after harvest, he writes, "was an occasion for pledging renewed obedience to the Babylonian throne." So the Jews got the idea to have a holiday to celebrate God's power, to hear the Torah being read and explained, to pledge to make their lives holier.

I have been thinking more about my judgment of people, my approval and non-approval. Yesterday I got on the L and there was a window seat next to a young man, who was sitting in the aisle. He got up so I could take the window. After he left, I had the window seat for a while and then a small tailored woman with a big tailored backpack got on the train and sat down. She was turned away from me and her backpack was in my side. She moved herself around and adjusted herself and she was hunched over, still turned away from me, reading her education textbook. Her hair was straight and highlighted in about three colors and her elbow was touching mine. I did not approve of her, even though she was reading an educational book. It was amazing that a small person was taking up so much space. I didn't say anything, just pushed back a tiny bit when her elbow touched mine. She was intent on not turning toward me or acknowledging me. I did not approve of her, and almost said to her, You don't ride the L much, do you? because she didn't know the etiquette.

On the way home, I sat next to a fat woman who was asleep in the window seat. Every so often her elbow would slide into mine, but I didn't blame her because she was asleep. And I was on the aisle seat so I had infinite space to expand.

I started out trying to examine my judgmental self and I ended up being judgmental. Maybe I am saying here that behavior is how I judge a person. Ha. I would like to think that about myself, but I am not so unbiased. Most of my women friends look like me--they don't wear makeup and they dress more for comfort than style. (I hope they don't take offense here.) And the ones that are stylish are already my friends so I don't judge them for it. (But that's illogical--how did they become my friends? I will skip over that.) My friends from high school are different. Some of them dress like they're in the Junior League (and what's more, they are!!). Why does everyone have to be like you, Cancer Bitch? Is it too much of a threat if someone is different? The truth is, I was raised to dress like them, and part of my identity is based on not being the way I was raised to be. Still. After all this time.

On the L yesterday before the Small Intrusive Woman came on board, I heard a young man on the phone behind me telling the person on the other end that to be with someone, "they got all of my body, mind and heart. That's why you know you can be with somebody. ...You can be physically attracted to someone without having sex." It seemed that he was trying to explain to this person that s/he didn't rate in all three areas. Then he told the caller to hold on while he took another call. It was about work. He was running late, thanks to the CTA. I don't know if he got back to first call. The I looked back and saw that he was sitting next to a young woman who put her head on his lap: "Do I have all three?" she asked him. "We'll talk about that later," he said and she closed her eyes.