As I wait on the platform for the train this morning, which is invariably running late, I look out across the still-inky sky to the rolling purple hills beyond me. I watch Wordsworth’s clouds wandering lonely across them, weaving between the dark spindling trees, casting shadows, and I think about how sometimes we all fail to attend to the beauty that is right in front of us.
I think about the briefness of life, and how we drink up thirstily the waters of our existence, often without savouring every last drop, before realising-too little and too late-it is all gone.
I steal a glimpse of my fellow commuters (or ‘train buddies’ as I now fondly think of them) waiting in the cold and wet alongside me. A recurring star-studded cast in my groundhog day commuter production. There they all stood. Portly bald gentleman; wearing-the-same-coat-as-me girl; manically smiling blonde lady… and I contemplated, what on earth were they all thinking? Did they see, as I did, the rippling clouds? Or the exquisite vast beyond of the moody, pitch heavens?
On cue, portly bald guy tuts, and looks at his watch, willing the train to arrive soon, and I deliberate whether he even noticed the glorious amethyst hues this morning. Probably not.
In his defence, the new year had rolled in like a hurricane, leaving a path of devastation in it’s wake. Not a week passed by without the tragic death of an iconic figure, a natural disaster, or a horrifying humanitarian crisis. Short, cold days, and a world constantly in mourning was leading me to believe I was trapped in some sick Game of Thrones plot-line, with the fragility of life laid bare all around me. In those moments, it was hard to appreciate the splendour, with the brevity of being thrust so tauntingly into our sights.
January also brought with it some sad news about an old school friend who had passed away at the tender, fledgling age of 28. It was sudden and unexpected. He had no time to say his goodbyes, to reflect on his experiences or own significance. His friends and family were left in shock; dumbfounded, as the magnitude of their loss ricocheted within the walls of their own lives. His light was diminished far too soon. Cruelly snubbed out.
For someone who feels at home in graveyards, I am often unwillingly preoccupied with the impending nature of my own demise, and the accompanying uneasy acceptance of sentient mortality. Sometimes, in an instant such as this one, I might find myself thinking-‘what if it all ends right now?’, wanting confirmation somehow, that I have led a meaningful existence, that I have seen all that the world has to offer me. A reassurance that I am leaving behind a legacy of more than just student debt, a never ending pile of washing, and vacuous hashtags splattered across Facebook. Wanting to leave a footprint deeper than that pressed momentarily in the sand, soon to be washed away by a lonely ocean wave.
The train arrives, snapping me out of my somewhat sombre reverie, and we all shuffle forward like sad little penguins and board. We wait for the rumbling metal carcass to take us to our destinations, silent and resolute in our routines. But not me. I am now determined to make today count, to see the world in all it’s screaming colours. To do something that might speak to someone else after I am gone; to light the eternal flame. It’s a mammoth task (and one which I am glaringly aware is largely unachievable in a solitary 24 hours), but I can at least choose to make a start, can’t I?
And so I write furiously, full of passion; in the vain hope that out there in the ether, across space and time, someone else will read these words and just stop for a moment. That they will see, as I did today, the hills, and the clouds, and the trees. That they too will gaze in wonderment at the sky, seizing the opportunity that pulses through our bodies with every defiant heartbeat, to blaze one hell of a fiery trail through their own life; however beguiling and brief that may be.