I awoke earlier than usual to a clear blue sky, a tiny hint of autumn lingering in the air, waiting patiently for summer to finish up and head north for ahwile. I decided to catch the 8:06am stop all stations train towards the city so that I could enjoy a seat and the time to read as I have grown weary of the 8:11 direct express train which I have crammed my way onto so many a rushed morning and hold onto a railing for dear life to prevent myself from landing on top of the person next to me as the swaying train moves along the tracks.
A few chatty school girls sat to my left fiddling with their school bags whilst talking about all the things their teachers let them get away with this week because it was their first week back to school after a long holiday. In front of me sat a very proud looking Vietnamese man dressed in simple attire sitting next to his small son dressed in an oversized Melbourne High School uniform with the emblem of a unicorn on the pocket. It seemed certain on the man’s face that this land of opportunity that we live in had brought him fortune by awarding his son with entry into the most prestigious government boys high school in the state, thus providing the boy with a chance for more opportunities than he could ever have in Asia, as it had done for my own partner who attended that school so many years ago.
The night before I had been exploring the topics of togetherness and separation, of uniqueness and oneness, and tried to get a better understanding of human nature. We all look different, we all act different and talk different. We all see things different, and experience things differently. I sat on the train and noticed the school girls all wearing the same matching blue and white high school uniforms, each with unique hair styles, faces, voices, and ethnic backgrounds. We all have such different stories to tell, and yet we are all human with bodies, emotions, and a voice.
At Richmond station I got off the train and walked down the ramp to the tunnel below that connects passengers to the other platforms. I rounded the corner on my way to platform 2 to catch the Sandringham train and came face to face with a tall thin man a few years younger than myself. We made eye contact as I stepped to my left at the very same time as he did as well. He had a kind gentle face, and was wearing a plain collared shirt and trousers, clearly a man who works at a fairly typical Melbourne office. I did not loose eye contact with him as I stepped to my right at the very same moment he did. We both stepped back to the left as if in a choreographed dance to silent music that we had both memorized in another lifetime and followed on queue. Then we both paused and stood still, looking at each other questioningly as we waited for the other to decide on their next move before deciding where to step next but seeing only that yet again we had made the same decision at the very same moment. Our two faces broke into a wide smile, and then cracked open to reveal a happy laugh that echoed through the tunnel as we stepped each to our own lefts gracefully around each other and continued on our way.
As I walked towards platform 2 I couldn’t help but marvel at how different him and I were. Two complete strangers, different ages, backgrounds, heading in opposite directions and yet for a brief moment, we were exactly the same, responding to a situation in exactly the same way. It was like my core human instincts were briefly aligned with this man as we gracefully moved in the same direction without much thought at all. It made me realize that despite all the external differences in appearance and style, and the feeling that most people don’t truly understand us, as humans we really do have our moments when we are exactly the same as someone else, even if just for a brief moment, thinking the same thoughts, going through the same motions, or feeling the same way.
It made me realize that we are actually alot more alike than we think we are. We may believe we are very unique, but we have alot in common too. We are after all, human, and there really is only one species of us.