Thank you, Bernard.

Hi Bernard – Thank you for commenting on the adventure I have chosen  to take.  I really appreciate your point of view.  I have taken it to heart and want to address your perspective.

And readers, before you read this post, please read his comments about my adventure. Bernard offers a perspective about this journey and the choice that I have vs. others.  He brings up a different perspective and I can so appreciate his point of view.

As  for taking mass transit, I am acutely aware, I have a choice. I see every day the riders who do not. I know what Bernard is referencing. I see the faces of those who are very tired, very resigned to how they live their life and I see a lot of people whose energy feels very heavy to me. I appreciate that  you think I have an arrogant point of view, and if you knew me, you would  also know how grateful I am to so many of the riders I have had a chance to talk to.  I learn a lot from the friends I make with each trip I take.

Regretfully, I cannot change their lives, but I can affect one moment in it and that is my goal as well. In all places in my life, I bring my smile, a friendly greeting, and more often than not, many times the comment of ‘you made me feel good today’ or ‘thank you for talking with me’ or great smile’ or sentiments to that effect, come my way almost every day. They rejuvenate me with these comments. I cannot change their circumstances, but I can breathe a small moment  of joy into their day.

So my mass transit life is for me an adventure to see if I can live without a car in Atlanta. And not for one minute do I forget how blessed my life is. Or, that at the end of this adventure, I have a choice to return to having a car, if I decide to.

Most riders could care less about carbon footprint reduction. All they care about is food and shelter and keeping their kids safe. I never lose sight of them and what gifts they give me along the way.  I spoke at a Clayton State University class recently.  I was speaking more about entrepreneurship than environment issues but of course, my work comes up. They shared with me that they felt the environmental concerns were not real life issues-that they just need to support their families and I could so appreciate that perspective and was deeply moved. As usual, when we teach, we learn more than we teach.

I have learned much from my fellow transit riders and am very grateful. They are the experts, not me and it is a very humbling experience.

One woman who has no choice, gave me tips on how to manage grocery shopping. To her I am so grateful.

One student who can barely afford college, and has no choice, taught me the secret to managing the quick turnaround between buses and trains.  To him I am so grateful.

One rider, who has no choice,  was so grateful that a higher educational institution was now adjacent to a MARTA station. He could now change his life circumstances because he could get to a school  easily. That deeply affected me. He asked for my card because he was studying energy efficiency this semester and he wants to call me when he graduates.  I will do all I can to help him get a job.

Many riders, who have no choice,  have helped me when they clearly know more than me. To all of them, I am so grateful.

I experience a culture on the bus and train of such helpfulness that I wish the rest of the world could feel  and activate that sense of helpfulness every day. I sit on the bus, and look around and am so grateful to each person for what they help me with everyday.  I am their student. I can’t do this adventure without tapping into them. They are my teachers.

I am acutely aware how much I learn from those who do not have a choice and how grateful I am that I do have a choice.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to you, Bernard.

Blessings on us all.

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3 Responses to Thank you, Bernard.

  1. Stephanie,

    Great response to Bernard and I love your blog so far. I have done both in the past; in my younger days I was without a car for quite some time and had to use MARTA for everything. I loved many things about it, just like you: the people I met (most of them), the opportunity to sit and look out or just read, and how un-stressed I (usually) was because I was NOT driving. Now, like many of your fellow-riders I had no choice at the time. But I sure was grateful that mass transit was there. I only wish we had more rail lines available and were not held hostage to county governments who do not want MARTA — in their back yards.

  2. Deb Hauck says:

    Steph, you are one proactive woman. I applaud your compassion and curiosity.

  3. Stephanie, your reply was well-written and enlightening. I am not surprised by Bernard’s comment; there are those who choose to judge others for what they perceive to be the intent behind their actions. The typical small-mindedness, judgmentalism and self-centered approaches that most of us carry around every day in just slogging through life stifles our ability to communicate, grow and thrive as a sustainable community. The search for “nobility” in our actions will surely find most of us falling short. Those among us blessed with the ability to live where we want to live, work at the “noble” career we choose for ourselves, and enjoy the luxury and privilege of acquiring the goods and sevices (including big homes, big cars and all the toys we want) still must understand that LIFE IS NOT ABOUT ME. We still must make a choice to share the world with others and perserve some semblance of a clean and hospitable world for those who come after. Many have no other choice and I doubt they sense the “nobility” of their actions. But you and others like you have made and are making new choices to live sustainably and with much less PHYSICAL IMPACT on the planet. And in the end, you will leave a more lasting and positive mark on the world than the physical trail you leave behind.

    Thanks for your note and for what it may do to change just one other person. After all, the old saw “think globally, act locally” still applies.

    Chuck

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