At Parliament train station in Melbourne, there are two layers of steep steel escalators.
On Tuesday morning, icy wind was tunneling through the underground platforms. Some people trudged — others dashed — to hop aboard the rising silver stairs.
This picture is what I saw on that ride up to the street.
Amid all the tight faces, there were three different couples in various stages of embrace.
Their affection and absorption in each other lit up some kind of warm expansive delight in me.
There was one couple at the bottom of the escalators, the woman in a bright pink coat, the man stooped over to kiss her hair …
Then the second couple on the left hand escalators, he too kissing her hair.
The third couple were facing each other and laughing, one on the step above, touching the face of his beloved.
It sparked such a warm surge of awe and curiousity – from my belly right up to my scalp. What was it about this Tuesday morning, these escalators, this particular journey?
Was this unusual? These three seemingly unrelated acts of commuter affection?
Or, was it simply that my eyes were open this morning – like the mandala principle? Was I seeing what was often there? Was it was just that I was attuned to see the affection in this moment on my path?
That’s what I love about drawing and writing and creative expression. The eyes and heart open wider and wider and wider.
Perspective and wonder.
I sketched this pic with crayons on the lounge that night, my hubby relaxing beside me watching tele.
Instead of trying to tell him in words what I’d seen and how it had touched me, he saw it unfold on the page.
And somehow, unlike trying to recount a story, it didn’t matter so much whether he or anyone else fully understood what had lit up in me.
This was my own precious choice to savour the depth of response and the wonder and inspiration of it staying with me through the day.
The moment was there on the page, quick and rough and unedited, unembellished.
I like that visuals are efficient and open. It’s easier for others to see in images some of what I experienced — and their own experience will flow if this art connects them with something that’s wanting their own attention right now.
Sitting there, crayons crumbling on the page and rolling around beside me, just giving it a shot to get something down on the page – I started to savour the sheer magic of empathy.
There’s a gift in being able to appreciate another couple’s affection, to be touched by it.
Something about being enriched by the sheer presence of the experience of mattering to someone.
And there’s the share freedom of tenderly embodying my own response to seeing that affection.
Because looking at this picture now, I’m appreciating how the happiness of others can also spark jealousy. I’m having tenderness for that experience too, while still celebrating the sheer delight that bubbled up.
I wonder. Is there anyone on this planet who is guaranteed permanent access to the affection of another? What about the possibility of permanent, unconditional affection towards ourselves?
Moments of affection from others may be temporary but do those experiences open us to see tenderness, to savour its presence, discover how it multiplies, and inspire the gift of being kind to ourselves moment by moment?
In appreciating one act of tenderness, I discovered another and another and another …
Escalating affection. How about that.