I’m a strange bird and I accept that. At this point in life, I am knocking on 40’s door sooner rather than later and its safe to say I am set in my ways. I have a confession to make, I really don’t like flying. I will fly if I have to and have in the past but generally speaking, it’s just not my cup of tea. Over the years, I worked through my fear of flying to the point that gone are the days when I need to stop at the bar before I hit the plane. No longer do I need to be tanked up to tolerate a flight, instead I get on and sit so somber I am sure the folks near me wonder whose side I am on. (sorry bad joke, but I admit I get in my seat, pop in my ear buds, close my eyes and make no conversation at all)
So as I start making preparations to visit family in a few months, I realized that I would prefer to take the train (Amtrak) rather than flying to get home to Chicago. Now it’s a 22 hour train ride and I planned on getting a room on the train, so that way I can have some peace and quiet. Bring the netbook, mp3 player (no IPod for Mama…just a lil MP3 player) some books and kick back and relax. Now I admit I tend to enjoy train travel, especially the more scenic routes out west. I also have enjoyed the fact that in past train adventures and I have taken many, that train travel forces you to surrender and live in the moment. As a train rider, it’s a lot more laid back than taking a plane, after all you never know exactly when you are going to arrive at your destination, once I leave my room, it forces a level of interaction that you don’t get on a plane. If you choose to eat in the dining car, you are sitting at a table with strangers which seems strange but I have met some of the most fascinating folks that way.
Anyhoo, I ended up discussing my dislike of flying with a few folks and everyone who I talked to with the exception of maybe 1-2 folks said, they could not stand to take the train even if they hated to fly because they wanted to get to their destination. Now there is nothing wrong with that but as Americans we spend so little time relaxing, in some ways I feel the folks I encountered are examples of how Americans by and large don’t relax. We spend a lot of money on activities and devices that are supposed to help us relax, but for many of us the idea of spending almost a day doing nothing while we travel to our fun place is unimaginable.
See, for me I see train travel as a transition tool. It allows me the time needed to get rid of one set of baggage and swap it out for another. As a wife, Mama and worker, its rare to get almost a complete day when I am not needed in any capacity, where I just surrender to the rhythms around me and allow them to guide me.
So I ask why are we all in such a rush?