Why We Need Train Travel
The trees began rushing past not long after escaping Oslo.
Away from the concrete confines of the city, the train begins to take speed. The melodic hum-hum of movement quiets the conversation, a surprising contrast from the initial frantic scurrying of passengers into seats which ironically were already assigned.
As the scenery unveils itself, my mind flutters to the Darjeeling Limited film and I imagine having a video camera to capture these long rolling shots that would make any Wes Anderson fan nostalgic.
The train flirts with each station, only lingering for a few minutes before it gracefully glides onward.
Sleepy passengers who were likely awakened too early for this ride stumble awkwardly in a trance towards the front of the train. The coffee cart must live there.
A young girl nearby removes a sketchbook and drawing pencils. I occasionally glance over to see her progress. She was so young, where was she going so confidently?
At times, light rain drops race diagonally along the glass. When the sun shines, reflections from fellow passengers are like sleepy ghosts in the windows.
I, too, was having difficulty resisting the humdrum lullaby of the train, effortlessly swaying left and right. I glance next to me, where my boyfriend claims the aisle seat, to see if he could be willingly coaxed into getting coffee, but he too had succumbed to the sleep inducing ways of the train.
The long, silver snake of the train keeps slithering its way across mountains, water, and grasslands, watching as the country unfolds. Places that a car or bus cannot see. Only the dedicated hiker or lucky bird will share these views. The same views of moving forward.
We all unknowingly made the same commitment today. We are committed to this time and place, and to each other, for better or for worse. It is a comradery, even though some of us are departing to meet a friend, to make funeral arrangements, to go hiking, or to transfer a child between divorced parents.
Wherever each of us are headed, we are committed to going forward. The train's infrastructure itself refuses to let one look back. But most importantly, for seven hours, we are committed to the moment - and the diligent effort to not be stirred from it until we have reached our final destination. It is much more than we can say for ourselves in a normal day, even though it is a change we know we should make. A change from tuning the world out, from constantly staring at an electronic device that customarily inhabits our palms. When was the last time you fully committed yourself to a time and place? Even if that place is an in-between? What will you notice?
From Oslo to Bergen, the landscape was constantly in flux. From views of the city, to seemingly levitating over crystal lakes, to steep fjords, and sweeping snow-capped mountains. Always changing.
Maybe, if we are lucky, we all changed a little too.
Malinda Meadows is an Ohio native who was letting grief blanket her life.
She found healing through traveling and nature. She discovered changes of location led to changes in her mindset. It helped her process grief and forge a new path with greater optimism and happiness. Realizing the benefit of deliberate change, she now leads a more balanced and mindful life inspired by simple changes.
She blogs regularly at malindainthesnow.com to help others find change, however small, outside their box in order to live a happier, healthier life.