I observed the large ginger tom cat leap down from the fence and land gracefully on the low garden wall. It sashayed towards the gate before silently jumping off and disappearing from my view. I took a long, deep breath from the cold, crisp, late winter air and breathed out, watching the condensation perform a last dance before slowly vanishing into nothingness. In the sky this morning nature had blessed us with a masterpiece of colour, painted with a kaleidoscope of frosty white, yellow, orange, red, blue and indigo – and above, a ghostly sliver of moon adamantly refused to give up its nightly guard. I took another long, deep, breath of cold fresh air, but it could not cool the warm glow inside my heart – I was smiling again!
The platform was nearly full of people, all of them, like me, waiting for the 6:58 to the central station. The train hissed and growled to a halt, 5 minutes late as usual.
To my surprise, the same young guy was in the same seat across the aisle as yesterday, with a pair of Beats headphones he gently nodded to music that was just too quiet for me to make out what it was – maybe I would ask him one day to turn it up! As I relaxed and looked out of the window I noticed that I was also sat in the same carriage as yesterday…on to the waste paper basket a budding graffiti artist had scrawled a rough heart shape with indelible ink and written ‘D + S’ underneath, or was it an ‘A’?
Some say that life itself is very much like riding in a car. Generally you know where you want to go and as you peer out of the front windscreen (or into the future) you can see specific things approaching, look out the back window (or into your past) and you can see what, and where you have been – you might even feel happy that something happened just as you would have wished. But if you look out the side window things can move so quickly that you may not be able to appreciate what you have. Perhaps it’s because in a world that is ever increasing in speed we are too concerned with what’s not yet happened or with things that have already been and gone. Riding in a train every day has proven to me that this perspective simply isn’t true! On a train you can only look out of the side window and indeed the world outside flashes by at 125kmh, but if something catches your eye, something that’s special or important it imprints itself on to the 100’s of millions of light sensitive cells on the retina and can spark a chain of events that you could never have predicted. Enjoying what you experience right now, as it happens, is a skill that everyone has, and everyone can utilise. Deciding to experience events immediately takes bravery – waiting for an unknown, possible, future is an easier option. I remind myself every day that life is not a dress rehearsal that can be repeated if you don’t get it quite right the first time. The here and now is a gift, which is probably why it’s called the ‘present’!
I smiled again, as I pictured the first time I’d seen her, was it only a week ago that my boss had sent me to the conference? It felt like a lifetime ago.
I’ve noticed that often time doesn’t seem to act linearly like it should; weekends for example tend to progress considerably faster than a day in the office! I was pretty sure that the conference I was sat in was never going to end – one more useless question and I was pretty sure I would have screamed! Finally my penitence was over and I headed directly to the lobby bar – my stomach had started growling 2 hours ago already! At the bar, I considered my options and for the sake of a healthy appearance towards my peers I ordered the vegetarian club sandwich – a clear mistake as the guy next to me ordered fries and eggs which looked considerable more appetising than my lettuce and cheese construction. I left it and ordered a beer, Brugse Straffe Hendrik a blond beer that arrived in a glass that slowly transformed from clear to opaque as micro droplets of condensation formed in the warm atmosphere of the bar.
I took a seat on a two seater Oxford style leather sofa, spread myself across it as if to say ‘nope, no room for anyone else’ and placed my glass on the table then settled down for an evening of private contemplation.
…and then she appeared, wearing a business dress of beige and blue check with dark blue stiletto’s. The dress accentuated her form, the curve of her back, the shape of her calves – she was fit. As she approached I realised I was completely captivated. She was beautiful, her hair was tied neatly into a professional pony tail and she moved with the grace of a dancer – I was not the only one to notice as an audible reduction in back ground chat was clearly detectable as the combined attention of those in lobby redirected itself. As she approached I realised she was smiling and then she stopped, looked directly at me and said ‘apparently we have met before’! Stupidly I looked behind me to see if she was actually talking to someone else, but she was not…
My thoughts were suddenly rudely interrupted as an inaudible crackling voice announced our imminent arrival at the central station over the intercom. As the train jolted to a final halt the aisle filled with people struggling with the stress and hassle of everyday life. I observed people rushing here and there, to appointments, to meetings, to things that should have been finished yesterday but today they did not compressed me.
I stopped for a second, like a boulder in a rapid moving stream, pulled out my Iphone and a smile once again spread across my face – ‘You Have Mail’.