The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn't a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with friends I make,
And better friends I'll not be knowing;
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
No matter where it's going.
--Edna St. Vincent Millay
I just love the spirit of this poem! I love the idea of adventure through travel or even through just talking to people and hearing their stories. You never know who you might meet and what you could learn from them. I think I first learned the value of this at SEP, the summer camp I went to at U of O during my jr. high years. Growing up in Pendleton wasn't the most diverse of experiences. Being in Eugene in the summer, often traveling the I5 with Grateful Dead concert goers in VW buses with clouds of green smoke coming out the windows was a real eye opener. Eugene in general is great--full of hippies, weirdos and university folks of all sorts. My fellow campers were from all over Oregon and beyond and it was the first place I felt I could just be 100% myself. I think everyone there felt that way as we all came back year after year and many of us are still friends today (oh, hi Brucifer)--it had a real community feel. There were wavers and nerdballs and everyone got along. And I learned the value of not judging a book by its cover because you never know who might end up being your friend. I spent 11 years at that camp, as an attendee and as a worker bee, and it had a profound effect on my life, one that still colors how I see people and the world.
Just today at what I thought would be a boring old meeting, I ended up talking to the most fascinating woman, someone I had just met. We had some downtime to chat and I loved hearing about her life, her travels to Egypt and Turkey, her daughter in NY, her love of theatre. I asked lots of questions and just enjoyed listening. What a treat!
OM asked me to take a different walk today and it was fun to see new sights, notice all the different things growing near the sidewalk and smell lilacs in the air. OM pointed out all the little houses she enjoys looking at on this route, and I felt like a tourist--just great. Since I'm not in a position now to have great travel adventures, times like this sure hit the spot. And hearing stories from someone else, even a total stranger, enriches me so much.
Someday when my kids are grown, I'll go to France. Maybe they'll come too, who knows? I'll stroll through Montmartre and pretend I'm Amelie Poulain, I'll skip rocks in the Seine, I'll drink a lot of vin, and I'll try to blend in and hopefully meet some new French amis. But until then, what's in front of me right here and now is lovely. But don't think for a second that I'll ever stop listening for that train.