I Sat at the Back of the Train

I’m back! I think I’ve done all the brain charging I needed to do, and I’m ready to start writing again. (And really, when I don’t write, I do a lot of thinking, which is totally problematic for everyone, but especially for me.)

Do you know where else I do a lot of thinking? On my commute. I ride a train to and from work, and while it is great to not be stuck in traffic, like I said, it leaves a lot time for me to contemplate the meaning of life.

Well, sometimes.

Because usually I’m reading, or listening to music, or otherwise occupying my attention on my train ride. Completely tuned out. Just like every other passenger on the train in the 21st century. If it weren’t for the overhead announcement that barked out the station every time we stopped, I’d probably still be on that train, never looking up, never noticing where I was, just riding forever.

Until today.

I got on the last car. This is a little trick of daily commuters: everyone comes down onto the platform and stops about in the middle of where the train will be. This makes that car pretty crowded. But if you walk down a little further on either side, you’re more likely to get a seat. (Who says blogging isn’t informative?)

Anyway, I grabbed a seat, facing backward. This is usually a problem for my sensitive stomach that is soy and dairy (and maybe even gluten) intolerant. The rolling of the wheels translates to my stomach roiling and me feeling very sick. But, not today. And so I went about my daily routine, feeling every bump and turn, letting the landscape slip past, reading my book without the conspicuous presence of nausea.

And in between turning the pages, I looked up.

I saw the tracks flowing away, and the burnt sky of a rising sun through a perfectly framed back window. It was breathtakingly beautiful, seeing the horizon and watching everything just pass me by. The sun came up over the Earth, and I was traveling across it in this strange, wonderful parallelism.

And I thought to myself, in that poignant way that we do when we see something unique and want to give it meaning, that it’s okay to look back sometimes. It’s okay to think about what has been. Because the past can be really beautiful. To see where you’ve come from and to understand that it’s made you who you are is truly a great lesson in life. But that doesn’t mean it will always be pretty to look at. The past can be painful or ugly, too. I simply happened to look out at the right moment and impressed upon it my own experience at that moment.

So, in essence, you shouldn’t spend too much time waiting for the next station or watching the tracks slip away, although it can sustain you for awhile. You should be reading a book or listening to music, living your life, just being in the present. And maybe, looking up every once in awhile.

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