Take The Train

672. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I’m on a train. It is night so I can see the distant lights, feel the swaying of the car, hear the whistle blow as if from a distance. I love riding trains. They are calming, peaceful. People relax when they are on a train. All around me people are sleeping and the few conversations happening are in hushed tones.

Although it might seem that planes and trains serve the same purpose, they are vastly different. A trip on a plane is nothing like the experience of a train. On the train, we are not crammed in to too tight spaces, buckled in and consistently distracted from where we are – as happens on a plane. When you are on a plane they don’t want you to think too hard about what you are really doing (hurtling through space in an aluminum tube at 30,000 feet). The beverage service and movie are there to keep you occupied. They tell me that babies cry on planes because the air pressure hurts their ears but I have a different theory: babies know they are skipping through space at 500 miles an hour and haven’t yet been socialized out of their feelings; they cry because it is the only sensible response to their predicament.

Not so on a train. Here, there is an entirely different philosophy at play. On the train, we are encouraged to look, we are free to walk about; there is a viewing deck! We are encouraged to take in our surroundings, not be distracted from them. We are on the ground. We are “in” it, not above it (if they are not yet sleeping, my car mates are staring out the window, deep in contemplation). Planes transport people from point A to point B; the “in between” space is tolerated. Trains are experiences; the “in between” space is the point. You can’t be in a hurry if you choose the train. Babies sleep on trains; they can’t help it, nothing rocks you to sleep like the motion of a train.

It is a happy accident that I am on this train tonight. And, I am amused at the theme appropriateness of this happy accident: this week I’ve been meditating on presence and slowing down – and wondering where in our contemporary lives does circumstance actually assist us in slowing down. I’ve found my metaphor on a train.

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