Commuter Friends on the train ride of life

I recently heard of a charming story regarding the building of relationships…
A few weeks back I happened to ‘bump into’ the same person a few time in the first class carriage / compartment/ cabin of an over ground train to Waterloo, London. Do not get me wrong, currently the first class cabins are free on selective routes as they are of the old ‘slam door’ variety. He told me that he took the same compartment at approx 7.30am every morning. Each cabin consists of six seats assembled in a three across three arrangement. He explained that everyday the same six people alight, meet-up and exit to and from different stations. I can only assume that cabin seating is respected and reserved for each passenger. They collectively proceed to discuss a variety of everyday topics, exchanging views and opinions. Even if they do not agree with each other, they can respect each other’s viewpoint. By the end of each person’s journey, they depart as friends and look forward to next day’s reunion.

It just so happened that during his morning journey that day they had bid goodbye to someone who was immigrating to the US. That morning she had brought in drinks and food (cake, croissants and chocolates). It was her way of thanking all her commuter friends of the good times that they had shared together over the years.

I wondered why I was so fascinated by this true story. In an era where people have what I call ‘personal lock-out aids’ such as personal stereos, mobile telephones, laptops and personal digital organisers. With such items, it is all too easy to become insular and closed off. The story suggests that although people can appear insular there can be opportunities for people to communicate and share their viewpoints. It is a bit like life itself. One gets on a rollercoaster, has fun on the ride, hopes not to fall off and when its time to exit, they can leave with a big smile on their face. The rollercoaster analogy unfortunately does breakdown if you are sick on route!

The other question to ask is what does the person on the ride of life actually achieve? In the case of the train ride, the journey and experiences on the way to work form just one part of their lives. In the same way, everyday we experience a multitude of roles. We can be a brother, son and friend to different groupings. This morning, again on a train I met someone who expressed how he was coming to terms with a recent close family loss. He was also trying to help another family member come to terms with what they should have done while the recently deceased relative was alive. I suggested that we should not considered life as scientific or linear with set start and end dates. Clearly, one cannot repair damage to an experience timeline. Instead, we should consider life as precious. Unfortunately, sharing experiences and helping others is sacrificed for achievement Vs competition. It is terrible that this latter dynamic is ranked higher than positive human traits of sharing, caring and selflessness. Soul enrichment as a personal goal appears to be missing.

In summary, I believe we are on this Earth to help each other. We should take an opportunity to learn from each other and just as important consider that some of the things we leave behind are relationships, memories and of having made a difference to each other.

Categories: 2004

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