Sorry for the overtly provocative title – I couldn’t help myself. ;) It’s honestly the first thing that came to mind earlier this week on the last stretch of my morning commute.
In addition to the briefcase containing my work laptop, etc., I carry an extra canvas tote with a couple of books, magazines and periodicals, etc. I have a decent-length commute, so I like to have ample reading material on hand. Well, I just happen to have been carrying a couple of print copies of The Atheist Voice, the newsletter published by the Metroplex Atheists.
Just enough of the newsletter was sticking up in the bag for the title to be clearly visible. Little did I know, I had a copy wedged into opposite sides of the bag’s interior, so the same was true no matter which way the bag was turned. I was busy reading a newspaper (disclosure: it was a copy of Freethought Today, published by FFRF). I happened to notice the exposed newsletter, and while I hadn’t deliberately placed the papers that way, I suspected a couple of held glances at my bag. I let my eyes skip up from my reading, just to try and catch someone looking, and watch for their reaction, if there was any.
Well, not quite. I’m not even 100% sure anyone really noticed it, but I had the very distinct feeling a man did, then later a woman (who also works in my office, it turns out) did. There really was no discernible reaction, but it felt like an odd little rush. It reminded me of when I used to ride the train or bus and read my copy of ‘The Lucifer Principle‘ by Howard K. Bloom. It actually has nothing to do with the “Lucifer” of Christian mythology, but I always chuckled a bit on the inside wondering if the other commuters were intrigued, scandalized, or otherwise. What can I say, I guess I enjoy a wee bit of high dudgeon – given or received – from time to time.
I have no shame in my position or loss of faith. (Tangent alert!) It doesn’t feel quite right to even say ‘loss of faith’ since I never really had much to begin with. But, I digress. I have no shame about what I feel and believe (and thus, don’t believe), but I’m still getting past the stigma the word ‘atheist’ has attached to it (see my “Coming Out” post).
This oh-so-mild form of exposure to outsiders and strangers felt a tad bit taboo, forbidden, and yet… exhilarating, and right. It felt good to let go of some societal baggage, and to let others know that we’re out here. I wondered what the woman who works in my office thought. I don’t really know her, but we share a walk from the bus into the office each morning in the pre-dawn dark, and we’ve made the usual forced small talk. I wondered if she might think I’m a nice guy, and what (if anything) this new revelation might do to that impression, if it exists at all.