The witching hour was nearing to cast its spell on the night under the aegis of Artemis, the goddess of the moon, and the passengers on the last train to East Ventura were inwardly invoking the power of Patience for a high hope for a low heaven – they all just wanted to go home after a hard day’s work, and no more. These aggregates were all bound by the same fate of being held up as hostages to the less practical and more unnecessary delay due to their inapt handling of one unruly passenger on board at Moorpark Station. The force of one unruly passenger carried the aggregates over the edge of their collectively simulated sanity and suspended their precious time to be spent at home. This nightly act of daily drama in the life of a commuter was in fact a repertory regularly put on stage by a company entitled Metrolink. It was performed yet again last night for an hour. Without Applauds, of course.
Since I moved to California last October from New Jersey following the footsteps of the nineteenth century emigrants from the East to the West via mules-driven wagons on the Oregon trail, I have been trying to make myself adjusted to the Californian way of life in every sundry aspect. But the most Promethean challenge to overcome is commuting to and from work via train, and my whole life now seems to be run by train schedules operated by Metrolink, the Southern California’s commuter railway company. It takes about three good hours round trip to and from Union Station in Los Angeles without delays, so basically my free time after work during weekdays is to be spent on the train without much personal time at home in the evening. Let’s say the commuting time is agreeable at will due to my economic activities, but any such delays, including the aforesaid and waiting for an Armtrek train to pass by on the trails for about thirty minutes, are hard to receive my magnanimous understanding. And it seems that the last East Ventura bound train in the evening is set for giving me a series of trials by ordeal that I need not anymore. Woes to those who are already burdened with the yoke of needs.
Call it a commuter’s blues or soliloquy, but whenever I am faced with another ordeal of habitual delay that seems to become part of my Immigrant Song in the Wild West, I think of the following Shakespeare’s quotation tinged with wits and pathos that speaks of our moments in life, such as last night’s episode of “Unruly Passenger at Moorpark Station”.
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe.
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.
Josephine Baker was surely more than just a pretty dancer who thrived on her exotic charms and wild popularity from her adoring admirers; she had the guts to talk back to the authority that ignored her presence, the voice to speak out against injustice, the pride of who she was and the will to fulfill her meaning of life despite her hardships. And she did all of this with a graceful choreography of decencies and humanity in style.
Reading of the intriguingly informative article about this strong-willed, headstrong woman has confirmed me in the universal credo that no matter where you came from, with the best of what you possess and the will to meaning by actualizing your valuable attributions, you can rise above biological and social planes deemed to stunt your growth into what you want to be. In fact, Baker’s resilient spirit against social discrimination and personal hardships epitomizes what Nietzsche advised to the suffering humanity:” That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” In this sense, the figure of Baker transcends a statue of civil right activist that some people like to erect for pontificating about their political ideology and becomes a universal model of humanity as she herself practiced during her lifetime. For it was not that she loved the socially disfranchised people of her kind, but that she loved mankind more.
Baker’s life was exciting, and the elements so wonderfully mixed in her that parliament of humankind might applaud her to the very echo and proclaim to the world “This was a woman!” For all her acts of courage and fortitude gracefully surrounding her person, those thousand decencies she exemplified as a citizen of the world flew from all her words and actions, really.
the secondhand identity;
the primary reality.
Where a fact finds a being,
Man defines a meaning.
P.S. The tenet of Sarte’s Existentialism is “Existence precedes Essence.” People love to criticize it because it lays bare to the starkest truth of life, even though they are all aware of it. Man defines himself where he stands in his life vis-a-vis his contemporaries, measuring himself against the burgeoning careers and just moderately settled lifestyles of his peers. I find this school of philosophy applicable to Charles Horton Cooley’s sociological theory of “Looking Glassed Self,” stating that you become what others think you are. Although I do not want to wholly subscribe to either of the thoughts, I can see where these thoughts come from: Human sentience, that is. Our faculty is rather instinctive than reasoning, physical than metaphysical because it reacts to an external stimuli much more than to internal principles of judgment. And I guess the age we are living in now is the apotheosis of sentient modus vivendi in many aspects…