Trains, Planes, and Automobiles (with apologies to John Hughes, Steve Martin and John Candy)

In my view, trains win, hands-down. I love trains! Trains are romantic. Think Orient Express. OMG - think Casablanca!!

On a train trip, the time from here to there is still lengthy, but it passes pleasantly. I like to stare out the window. First I try for the umpteenth time to figure out the optical illusion. You know - stuff closer to the train looks like it is moving in one direction and stuff further back looks like it’s moving in the opposite direction. If you can explain this visual perception to me so that I can make sense of it, I will buy you an ice cream cone.

But then, I settle into what I call my train reverie. We click-clack and chug-chug through farmland and small cities and suburbs and towns. Who lives there? What kind of work do they do? What are their families like? What are their struggles; what are their joys? How do they spend their days? It seems rude to just speed through, not stopping to see how everyone is doing.

Trains make me wonder. Is there someone in that town who I would enjoy being friends with? What could I learn from the farmer? What is the story of the person who owns that small shop?

As I stare out the train window, I always feel wistful. I am a stranger passing through, missing the richness of whatever is happening in all these places. But the wistful feeling is not altogether unpleasant….the journey on the train at least shows me that these places exist, as I head to my own destination.

And although the ride is long, the train will get me there relaxed since it is the one doing the hard work. I think of my favorite children’s book: The Little Engine That Could. You know – “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can……I knew I could!!” What a great mantra for life.

A plane is different though. A plane is not wistful. A plane is efficient. I just flew from Washington DC to Boston. I can’t get over that the time in the air is just one hour. I think of all the 8 hour car trips I have taken over the same terrain. Really, it is amazing that humans have figured out how to whip around the world so quickly. I am never relaxed on a plane though.  Relinquishing total control over my life is difficult for a control freak like me.

Automobiles. Hmmmm. Does anyone out there like the way your spouse or partner drives? You do?! You are in a miniscule minority, I am afraid. Anyway, I love my car and think of it as my second home. But long car rides on turnpikes are tiring and tiresome…..unless of course, you Notice! Still, I prefer Noticing and imagining on trains. And of course, there are so many @#$%^& idiots on the road. You have to be on high alert at all times. Now that is not a very kind thought is it? And how can I reconcile not liking planes because I have to give up control with not liking driving because I have to be in such tight control? It’s just hard to please some people I guess….

But give me a window seat on a train anytime, and let me be wistful. Is that Humphrey Bogart standing on the station platform?!

©2015 Margery Leveen Sher

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