There’s something different
about taking the train.
Far from the privacy of traveling by car,
yet in some ways,
a journey with more solitude;
allowing more personal time
to think, reflect, and observe;
not having to worry about traffic and road obstacles,
letting the conductor
direct you, in this big, metal carriage,
on a fixed path that cannot be changed.
Back and forth,
every 15 minutes
a new one comes by –
like clockwork –
such is the reliability we come to hope for.
And on this journey,
in this particular means of transport,
the blend of humanity can be observed:
from the uptight businessman
with his suit and laptop;
to the casual worker
worried about getting to his shop in time.
Conversations often revolve around transport:
what time do you leave?
where do you get off?
what time do you get to work?
Such are samples of the public discourses
on this course
of continuous human movement.
is the opportunity
to look into the eyes of others
you may never otherwise see:
the tired of life,
the young and carefree,
the responsible that have a million other things to worry about.
So varied are the hues of humanity,
not only in colour,
faith (or lack thereof),
Different, too, are the ways
they find to occupy their time on the journey:
some do nothing, sitting quietly in observation or reflection;
some stare out of the window, zoned out, listening to music;
others are lost in a novel,
a few spend these minutes reading newspapers or magazines;
while still others pass the time by talking to each other.
And some spend most of the journey asleep,
unaware of what’s going on around them,
waking up intermittently at stops or other random moments,
before dozing back into their heedless slumber.
Others – criminals – cunningly wait
to catch someone off guard
and pick their pocket;
for a meager profit.
But despite all these differences,
for these few minutes,
on this shared journey to a common disembarkation point,
we all travel together –
regardless of our different destination after the journey ends.
Is this not a microcosm of life’s journey?
All of us – no matter how different our ways and character –
travelling together in a common existence,
for a short period of time,
to a shared point where we get off;
each of us going to our own destination –
be it one of pain and suffering,
or one of eternal bliss.
But, unlike the train ride,
many of us don’t remember
that this life is just a short journey
which will inevitably come to an end;
and when our worldly journey eventually ends,
will we be satisfied with how we spent that time?
Or will we be regretful?
That we wasted it
on deceptions that mattered little –
yet seemed so important at the time…
Here’s a quick question for all that read this blog: do you participate in online discussions? I’m not talking about specialised forums, but general portals – like news sites that allow you to comment on stories (for example, South Africa’s News24).
And if so, what’s your experience been like – particularly when you comment on sensitive or controversial topics?
Do you think there’s benefit in contributing to such discussions? Or, more often than not, does it just turn into one big shout-fest, where people try to argue that they’re right and others are wrong?
Post your answers in the comments, please.