I’ll be honest, I’m one of those people who takes forever on deciding to buy or not buy something at the store. I waffle over even the smallest purchases, even if I can afford it, even if it’s something I need because I relentlessly interrogate myself with the same question: “Is there something better I could be spending this money on?” Yes, I could use that new coat, or I could save the money for a new phone, but I don’t need a new phone half as bad as I need a new computer.” And the it goes on and on and, unfortunately, usually kills the enjoyment of treating myself to something. But, if I get a new coat or something as a gift, I can fully enjoy it, guilt free. There’s no second guessing or regretting a choice I didn’t make. Now, let me tell you the other (bit more unusual) circumstance when I can release regret and get a similar feeling of warm fuzzies.
For you non-New Jerseyans who don’t know, NJ Transit is a hot mess. Late trains, conductors with extra loud North Joisey accents, and about a 1:3 drunk to sober passenger ration after 5pm. But riding the train is so soothing to me, therapeutic almost. When I’m on the train, I know I’m going to be on it for a set period of time, and I know that there’s only a few options as far as what I can do (anything productive is pretty much out) during this time. I can listen to music, relax, read, or write, which is actually how I finally got around to writing this post I’ve been meaning to get down for the past two weeks. I take a subtle comfort in the temporary surrender of control, and with it, the surrender of responsibility and self burden I put on myself to be productive. It goes back to the same question as in the store when I’m buy something: “Is there something else better I could be doing with my time?” I should write that blog post, but before I can do that I really should clean up my website, but I shouldn’t do any of that until I’ve cleaned up my apartment a bit. And in the calmness of the train ride, I feel like a child in a sandbox. Focus and creativity come more easily because my mind isn’t being pulled in dozens of directions about what I could/should be doing. The train gives me peace of mind or, at least, sets the circumstances for me to receive it. The calm combined with constantly passing scenery creates, for me at least, a unique writing environment (similar to my previous posts on the airport as a writing environment).
When you’re on the train, what you write is the conversation you would’ve had if you weren’t traveling alone.