train travel


The countryside rolled by, and I moved onward from one place to another. I don’t even remember where I was going that time. That’s sad. Too many train rides. Too many plane rides. Too many car rides. All of them taking me from this place to that place. I was young then, that’s what I remember. The experience is only sensations. The blur of the landscape. The hard plastic seats. The clack of metal on metal as wheels rolled on over metal lines in to the distance. I have so many of those experiences that they gel together. All of the things I’ve experienced on trains couldn’t have happened on the same journey, could they?

A leaking toilet that flooded in to the walkway and off of the train. An open train door, traveling at 60 MPH. A drunken stowaway puking and getting hauled away by police. A midnight train in the dark. An early AM train after a sleepless night of drunken fun. I remember these moments and many more. They flow like the train rides, moving through my mind in a stream of consciousness. And each time I was heading somewhere. To a new city. To castles and kingdoms built over hundreds or thousands of years. To beer halls based on bets. From places I’ve wanted to escape. To beaches. From one paradise to another.

Why do I remember the train rides? I remember the places too. But, many of those places also blur. The train rides though. I remember the motion. The movement and sense of freedom. It’s like living in a big city. Anonymity among the crowd. Then you arrive somewhere. You eat at a restaurant. A waiter asks you questions. She wants to gather information about you. Everywhere you go people prod and search. They want to know what makes you tick. They notice you. Sometimes that is nice. My pride thinks so. Other times I prefer the silent train ride, the journey between distances, because in the transition from one spot to another no one is noticing. I can work on myself and not feel embarrassed or singled out for being weird. The others are all on a similar journey. They are focused on getting where they are going, or maybe just enjoying the journey.

Somewhere between those miles in transition life occurs. This is the bulk of life. The spaces between getting someplace. The time you spend somewhere is always brief, a blip compared to the time you spend getting there. While some spend this transition time sleeping, or staring at the rolling hills some use this time in other ways. The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough time in the day for things, but that we don’t use our time wisely. We spend the time on the train sleeping instead of becoming a better person. We daydream about possibilities instead of acting.

The time on the train, when life is sitting there staring and waiting for you to make a move is the time to practice and hone. When you arrive wherever you are going the time for preparation is past. That’s when the question is asked: Are you better today than when you began your journey? Then prove it.