A Poetic Homage To A Quiet Life And Why I Love Bus Rides

A Poetic Homage To A Quiet Life And Why I Love Bus Rides

My Stepdad is a city bus driver in my hometown Vilnius, Lithuania. He once told me that it was his dream occupation ever since he was a 5-year-old country boy. He loves his job more than anyone could ever imagine. The stories he hears and the characters he encounters each working day are truly entertaining and mind-opening. After around 15 years behind the wheel of the city bus, he seems to know not only the ins and outs of the crazy road net of Vilnius, but also the very heart of the city’s colourful population.

My Stepdad is my inspiration, a hero of a quiet life.

When I was growing up, becoming an actress was my biggest dream. I believed that actors lead superior lives that mattered more. But when I grew up, I realised that all actors do is playing us, the so-called ordinary people, projecting our quiet private lives onto the screen.

That was one of the reasons Paterson (2016), a film written and directed by his quirkiness Jim Jarmusch, hit home. It’s a heart-warming and a slow-paced story of a young man Paterson (played by Adam Driver) who drives a bus in a city called Paterson, New Jersey, for a living and writes poetry by hand during his lunch breaks in his one and only precious little notebook.

The film is full of interesting characters spread out on Paterson’s daily path. The most significant one is his wife Laura, played by Golshifteh Farahani, an amusingly eccentric dreamer, a country musician and a cupcake businesswoman wannabe, and Paterson’s biggest supporter and a genuine fan of his poetry. The other characters are Paterson’s friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and complete strangers. In his bus, near his bus, just outside his bus, and far away from his bus.

The other reason this film stuck in my head and heart was that riding a bus is one of my favourite things to do, my life-long daydream-inducer. Whether it’s my daily commute to and from school, university, or work, an international journey or a road trip to another city, or even if it’s an aimless ride in a city just for a ride’s sake, that’s the thing my mind and body crave for on a regular basis.

There’s just something very special about that landscape moving before my eyes, the rocking of the vehicle responding to the road’s endless turns, bumps, and holes, the greens and reds of those traffic lights splashing onto the streets and colouring my skin, the random passengers I get to watch and the conversations I get to eavesdrop.

There’s something incredibly soothing and simultaneously exciting in all of this. The injection of oneself into a local community. The intriguing collection of unrelated private lives sharing a time in a confined moving space together, hoping for the best.

Still from film Paterson (2016) with Adam Driver

Most passengers seem to tend to detach entirely from the awkwardness of this obligatory togetherness. They choose to rather stare out of the window, listen to music, read a book, scroll the screen on the phone, knit, scribble or sketch something curious on a little travel notebook than engage, or be engaged, in a conversation with a total stranger.

Most of the time I’m like the majority of those passengers, involved only in my own little doings or my private daydream world. But from time to time my aura attracts another, or their aura attracts mine, and a short-lived moment of closeness comes into being.

No single way of spending your time on a bus is wrong or right. Anything is good that works for you, that inspires you, calms you down, settles the turmoil of your thoughts or sparks brand new ones, allures you into a meditative state or dissipates your emotional and mental fog.

I wish more people rode buses.

For the health of our minds, for the health of our communities, for the health of our Earth.

My Stepdad doesn’t have a notebook to write poetry in. He doesn’t write poetry at all. But he is a poet, an everyday poet of life, creating moments of joy for others and appreciating the ones that others are gifting him with. He sees things and people for who they are. He’s not a saint, he has his own blocks, triggers, and lessons to learn, just like everybody else, just like me.

But he is my hero, a hero of a quiet life, teaching me what life is all about – little everyday moments, the beauty in details, the joyous connections between you and your loved ones as well as complete strangers.

Ultimately, life, no matter how lonely or isolated we may sometimes feel, is about the sense of oneness, as we breathe the same air, walk on the same ground, carry the same set of body parts, dwell on the same troubles, feel the same set of emotions.

So if you have a chance, watch Paterson, and tell me, who do you relate to and care about more: him or Batman?

And whenever you have a chance, get onto a bus, sit down, and enjoy the ride.

See what happens.

And oh, say hi to the bus driver. And perhaps thank him or her when leaving.

I’m sure it will be much appreciated.

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Featured Image: screenshot from a film Paterson (2016) by Jim Jarmusch.

Images: Film Grab

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