Since taking this new job, I’ve been riding the train in to New York City every day; a new experience for someone who has worked out of the house for the last five years. It’s all pretty much ritual: purchasing the tickets, finding the best seats, perfecting the timing of it all.
One of the things that’s always fascinated me about the train is how quickly everything flies past once you start moving. It all becomes a cartoon motion blur, a few silver lines trembling against the smudged earth. A slow fade from urban to rural and eventually back to urban.
And the things we pass! Fields and streams, forests and swamps, mountains of rubble and huge ghosted out warehouses with the most exquisite graffiti. There’s a field with the statue of what looks like a small cow; it’s been there several weeks now and hasn’t moved. I passed an abandon train car with the word ‘catenary’ emblazoned on the side; I looked up the word after seeing it and had an impromptu math lesson.
There they all go, here and passed, miles and miles behind me now. This happens every day. Every day the blue Shiloh Baptist Church bus with weeds growing up around it whips by. Every day the razor wire fences. Every day the ugly yellow building with gigantic red block letters.
Just like life. Each day I get up out of bed, shower, dress, coffee. Much of it is the same, much of it is cyclical. But as I look in the mirror, there’s a secondary, much slower fade. I kiss my wife and I notice it as well. It’s much more noticeable with my son. Each day, a slight change in the lines. All indication of an even greater journey.
Both of these journeys offer much beauty: the faster daily cycle and the slower fade. Sometimes you just need to pull the emergency break, step off the train and explore. Of course, if I did that today, I’d be late for work. I suppose I’ll have to settle for enjoying the brief snapshots I take of a quickly receding landscape.