I’m heading out for a week of vacation (my first non-working vacation in 2 years) and I realized the importance of looking around every once in a while to remember to really take in all of the little and big things around us, regardless of the kinds of days we’re having.
I was at the train station, chatting with the worker about how his day was going, goings on at the station and the renovations that to me, were recent.
It was a while since I last took the train West and I realized just how much changed in that time.
The entire ticket counter where the attendant used to be was gone and in its place was a ticket machine.
The station attendant’s voice fell as he began talking about those changes in particular.
Once upon a time, I took the train once a month and doing that over the span of 2 years will make you a few friends if you let it.
I loved getting to know the train’s service managers; One even gave me an entire car to myself because it was empty and in between station stops, she and I talked about anything and everything. It seems like such a simple act, that slowing down to share and experience another person, but we tune it out and turn up the music or the volume on our thoughts. I also got to know was the attendant at the ticket counter.
She was a spitfire of a human being that always spoke the most practically about everything, yet at the same time you got the sense that she was taking great care with every detail along the way to her many conclusions. More than one morning on the way to work when I needed to pick up a ticket I picked up a coffee for her from the neaby coffee shop and greeted her with a smile, a “How goes it?” and enough time to savor every moment I had to learn from this relative stranger. We talked about books, family, her life experiences, favorite trips, life lessons, jobs, relationships, family and just about everything in between; When I purchased my train tickets I made sure I had at least an hour just to chat with her.
I took for granted how I thought she would just always be there.
She’s still in great health from the sounds of it and simply taking on other roles within her company, but that conversation with the station attendant hammered home an important point worth remembering:
Stop and savor because life will pass you by if you’re not paying attention.
We live rich lives not because of the things in them but because of the decisions we make to stop and say, “Thank you for this moment,” by doing something with it. Trust me, at the time I got to know that attendant, my material possessions were few and yet those conversations made me feel as though I had the world in the palm of my hand.
It is this simple act of noticing light in certain places and calling it out to play with us.
Saying thank you for the opportunity to tread heavily, carefully, foolishly or rhythmically on this Earth.
The train left the station tonight, as I loaded my bags into the overhead compartments and unpacked my almonds, raspberries and laptop. Perched comfortably at the window seat I stared into the rolling fields we were passing by. The sunlight cascaded over grasses whose length I tried to mentally measure as the breeze caused it to ripple in waves before the train’s speed propelled us forward.
We passed by houses whose backyards looked profoundly ordinary but whose small details stood out and had me wondering whether its inhabitants ever came outside to take in the things that they might one day miss about these hidden spaces. There was a white picket gate that clashed with the dark wood of the rest of the fence, its paint visibly chipping even from the train window. Vines wrapped themselves firmly around the fences in that particular valley behind the houses and created this lush space that I felt immensely privileged to see, as though I was watching a favorite part of a beloved movie where the characters begin their adventures with the fresh energy of exploration and wonder. So much of the cities we passed through remained relatively untouched, perfectly tucked away into these soft corners of undisturbed greenery and I thought about the people who lived in those cities, not ever knowing of these places of wonder.
How many people stopped to take the time to savor their own backyards.
And then I turned my attention to the people I shared the train with.
The families whose children were waving at the train, the stranger jumping up and down waving at the lone passenger who boarded the train moments before; the woman on the train reading a book about introverts, presumably not realizing the peaceful smile caressing her face or the mother walking her baby to sleep up and down the aisle of the train. Then there was the woman in front of me whose iPad was held up on a stand and whose laughter occasionally echoed throughout the car, bringing out the laughter in others. Not to mention the joy the woman across the aisle from me exuded when answering her phone call from a loved one.There is more life than most of us would know what to do with if we stopped to look at it with the same microscope we use to examine the things we want but do not yet have or the things that haven’t quite gone according to plan.
This is the life which passes us by.
People slip through and I was reminded today of the importance of stopping to say wow.
Stopping to say thank you.
And remembering our many opportunities to live from places of curiosity and wonder towards the mundane parts we think we know the meaning of.
Maybe it’s just my vacation starting that has me feeling so carefree, but I’d like to think that we deserve that from ourselves.
That sense of wonder infused into our days.
And the joy it brings us to be so pointedly aware of the innocence that is the pulse thrumming through our experiences.
Vacation or not, it’s something worth sticking to.
On The Wings of Miracles,