Have you ever thought about your lived experience of being on London tube?
Once I enter stuffy new carriages of Victoria line, my sense of self-awareness heightens in split second. I detach from my body and hover above the stuffed-to-brims carriage observing the tubehood of compatriots.
The first dew of sweat starts appearing on my sun-tanned forehead as I haven’t prepared for the muggy afternoon and put on a season appropriate rain-coat this morning. My comfy white Vans are suddenly and disproportionately too big to squeeze through the rows of bookworms sheltered by their thick tomes from a pretty pregnant woman and an aging gentleman in a tweed jacket.
Looking to find some stability on the shaky ground of the train carriage, I am uncertain about what to do with my lump of clay. If I lean comfortably against the glass wall, the person sat behind it may become excessively curious about my colour co-ordinated outfit hastily picked out this morning from a ‘what’s clean’ pile of apparel.
Should I squeeze myself on a little fold-up seat, it will make an awful lot of unnecessary noise when I stand up to get off at Victoria. Standing by the sliding doors provides me with an easy escape in case of air shortage and offers me as a punch bag for the taller and more forceful commuters.
Having read my account, one may think that I am an anxious type in need of all too familiar to many citalopram and some free CBT sessions on the NHS. I warmly welcome this point of view.
However, personally I experience it as a continuous interaction with entities. I notice the distinctive nature of the blue fluffy seat cover too hot to sit on in a skirt. The coldness of the pole leaves a distinctive metal smell on my fingers for hours. A push from a fellow commuter sends shivers down my spine and adds the last drop to the vessel of anger stored up from my previous tube journey. Oh, someone is giving up the seat to the pregnant lady – warm fuzzy feeling spreads around my stomach and puts a tired smile on my face. The gentleman is still standing and so are my assumptions about the public transport etiquette.
In my humble attempt to comprehend the complexity of Heidegger’s thought, I would call the above my ontic knowledge of what it is like to be a commuter in a multimillion city. My destination is a personal therapy session where I can unpick and try to understand why I let it affect me to the extent of needing to write about it in public domain.
I’ve feared personal therapy as there was a lot of mystery surrounding it. The fear had stemmed from the unknown, but once the curtain was slightly lifted, it ceased to be so frightening. What happens in the room? I bring my tube journey to my all-understanding (and slightly idealised) therapist. I discover the values which were instilled in me as a child by my intelligencia-class parents. There is always room to merely rumble on as well as become aware of the stress-induced pain in my right arm when I am sat next to a passenger who hogs the armrest.
Therapy for me is the space to reflect on my weekly encounters, vent some frustration, be in silence with my thoughts and be accepted for who I am. What I have learned in my personal therapy so far is that the matrix of our experiences is rich and varied. Each one is valid, subjective, and has the right to exist and be shared. Care to share yours?