The Medication Of Trains

by - Sunday, August 23, 2015

image courtesy of Kevin Lawson (@yskel)
Inspired by a beautiful journey along the coastline from Leeds to Glasgow, I reflect on some of the reasons why I'm not too eager to learn to drive just yet...

If there is one thing in the world that I share a deep and twisted love affair with, it is the humble train journey. 

I'm not talking the sort that gets you from A to B, taken on every weekday evening after work, repeating upon you like toothache. I'm talking lush four-hour escapes along the coastline, late night travels over twinkling bridges, sprawling rails through endless countryside. The romantic ones, not the quick fumble in the dark. 

My love of train journeys is all in the transition. There are few opportunities in daily life that you give yourself over to so fully, being not in one place and not yet in another. This state of being encourages so many things we convince ourselves we don't have time for in our day to day lives - devouring a book in one sitting, revisiting an old favourite record through the secrecy of headphones, the simple pleasure of watching the world open up through a window. 

I always spend long train journeys in a state of oddly enjoyable melancholy. I feel the adrenaline rush of my anxiousness as I leave behind familiar surroundings and loved ones. I often spend half in a delicious but terrifying state of panic: longing for escape but relishing the silence. Therein lies the twist: for train journeys to be truly enjoyable, they must be spent alone, without the pressures of idle conversation and lazy heads lulling on shoulders. They must be spent in a bubble of ones own passion, heavy with reflection or hopeful plans, depending on which side of the fence your optimism should happen to fall. Even the longest of train rides can feel too short when lost in thought, cruelly thrust back into the real world as the carriages weave their way into the station. 

Somehow changed but entirely the same, I credit my solo train rides with a huge dose of my sanity - a place where quiet things can be celebrated and nothingness welcomed. It's something I think we should all do regularly- hop upon a long haul with a bag full of pop-culture and see where you end up. You might be surprised at what you can leave behind.

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