Chasing Trains, 'Unexpect-ing' (vb.) Trains, Dreaming (of) Trains

10:20 pm


There is a small road bridge in the park near where I stay. Due to the nature of its location – right in the middle of two large, beautiful sections of the park – the bridge carries a fascinating and bizarre range of characters.

Walking on this bridge, you might see an old man, reciting Christian verses into a broken loud speaker, whilst clutching a battered Bible in his withering hands. He might be followed by a young mother who carries her offspring to school in a cane seat, fitted to the back of an old cycle. From the other side of the bridge, a pale girl, staring into some vast space in the future, might walk past in slow steps as her large St Bernard runs ahead, chasing some unseen toy full of doggy joy.

If you are really lucky, this series of characters might go past you in the exact order described above, transporting you into the sets of a spontaneous film running parallel to your daily life.

But don’t worry if this doesn’t happen. The road bridge offers several other exciting opportunities for a temporary escape from your present state of being. For below this bridge, lies a railway track.

An old sign states the name of a disused station and a little station house stands guard above this sign –  a private and forbidding place - as though holding up a banner that says ‘Sorry, we are now closed’.

However, these are merely signs of deception for every once in a while, a train does pass these tracks.

This train is freight- only. It has no windows, carries mysterious goods, and changes colour from dark brown to dirty yellow depending on the mood you are in. Some might even call it forgettable.

But one summer evening  – and now we are talking a transcendental form of luck – you, might be walking alone on the bridge.

The trees around might be shaking with the wind. You might not see a soul in sight.  A flag behind you hitting its flag pole might sound like three wind chimes, playing together to create the subtlest of sweet sounding disharmonies. In that brief moment, that you exist in this strange and timeless space, the dark brown/dirty yellow freight train might decide to go through the disused station, below the very bridge you are standing on. 

Now that we both know what that moment feels like, perhaps we could use various sources of information, chart out the timetable for this mystical train’s appearance, fill our flasks with some tea, pack some biscuits, sit down on the bridge, legs dangling, and wait.

But in our breathlessness and our over-excitement, I suspect we would lose any chance at all of experiencing that intense moment of absolute and uninterrupted peace that we felt before. For how could the old train possibly satisfy us, when we hold so many expectations of it?

It might be better then, to not expect anything at all, and just dream of seeing the train again. Maybe then, it might come along, in the way that an old friend sometimes crosses your way - a pleasant surprise.

Then as the wind chimes away around your friend and you, you sit down together and say nothing, absorbing each moment of that time shared, into your memory, feeling a sort of sad - happiness to be in that timeless moment, knowing you will be apart soon but not wanting to waste any time thinking about it.

For when you are finally out of luck and the fascinating characters are all gone, at least you still have that memory and then you could dream of the possibility that the dark brown/dirty yellow freight train, might chug away below the bridge you are on, once again.

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