I usually travel with train at least two times in a week, always on the same route I’ve known ever since I can remember going on train journeys. The journey takes little less than two hours, and I do everything I can to make it pass quicker. I’ve developed a wide range of techniques that provide absolute distraction from the fact that I am on a train, stuck in a metal mean of transport. You see, I am not sure when, but one day I simply decided, that the time I spent on train journeys is a wasted time, good for nothing, so it is my sole purpose to make it as not-boring as possible.
So I do just that. I study and make notes, I revise and read science articles I would else never find the time to read. I carefully charge my laptop batteries so I can watch series and movies later on train. I bring along my iPod with a new album to listen to. I stock my backpack with various books I can read, just in case I get tired of one, and I want something different. I get a McDonalds takeaway, so I can happily spend first half an hour admiring every single french fry separately, before eating it with a slight sense of guilt. Or If I forget all of these things, I have to improvise and entertain myself with people around me. I watch them for an hour straight, trying to figure out what’s their story, where they’re going, why do they have a mustard stain on their shirt or a bouquet of flowers in their lap.
And sure enough, I am at my destination before I know it. I feel so proud of myself, because I did it, another train journey I didn’t spend doing nothing, I didn’t waste looking in thin air or staring through the window. I am really, really proud. What an achievement. Amazing, I did it again.
Then, there was this afternoon. No different from any other I spent on a train. I already had my earphones in, the computer sitting on my lap, just started to watch a movie, when I looked outside. And I saw…magnificent serenity, the kind that pulls you in softly and makes you feel everything will be okay. It was beautiful, almost too beautiful to take in all at once, and I felt an unbearable urge to pause the landscape, passing by in the window. The only problem is, that I couldn’t find a pause button. So I paused a film instead, and let the quickly changing landscape pass me too fast to really remember what it looked liked five minutes ago, only remembering the feeling it left. And more, and more, such excess, there for me, unfolding peacefully yet with a taste of bitterness, because my window sill can only capture it for a moment before it’s gone.
That day, I stared through the window for the entirety of the journey. I did absolutely nothing, yet when I stepped on a platform, it seemed like so much. I forgot, why exactly I thought I might need my computer. Who in their right mind would trade that for a movie?
So I made a vow. That from now on, my train journeys are going to be more of the empty, boring, quiet through-the-window staring and less of everything else. More filled with thoughts I happen to have, and less with bad rom-coms.