the golden ticket

My train tickets arrived today--from Croton-on-Hudson to New York City to Boston to Portland, Maine. I can barely contain my giddiness as I hold the tickets in hand. I want to tell you--Amber, Rachel, Warren, Sally, Sherry and Emily--I'm coming!

I can hardly wait to see you all, but I expect I'm going to enjoy getting there almost as much as being there. This is part of what the train has given back to me--a chance to relish the journey as much as the destination.

I love the way it hums along the tracks like a wordless poem, the way you step on without being jostled through tense security checkpoints. The way it invites you to watch and wonder and wait.

Two days ago, on the Metra, I watched three passengers fall asleep within moments of boarding. They looked a little like Natalie after she's nursed--satisfied and safe, ready for some respite from the constant shoving of life. They had already navigated Chicago's grimy rush hour on foot, passing the panhandlers, nudging their way through the crowds. It was time to be lulled into another, quieter space.

Yesterday Lauren Winner gave a wonderful lecture at the University of Chicago. One of her most compelling points was that we now define time in purely economical terms. We no longer pass an afternoon, we spend it. We don't cherish moments, we maximize them. We're fixed on efficiency at the expense of grace.

We're expected to perform around the clock, to perpetually check our email and to always keep our cell phones on. Lauren said that she can't quite grasp why we fought so hard for the forty hour work week only to hand it right back to our employers.

I don't want to buy, spend or maximize time. I want to live fully through it--to dwell in the days given to me with gratitude. I want to come to a fresh awareness of the grace-upon-grace of life in this dazzling mud-flecked world of ours. I hope to pass--not spend--more hours on the train.


Julia said...

Jenny, you've totally sold me on train transportation, and, being someone who is doomed to never understand or fit in with the corporate world, I think this may be my favorite of all your posts so far.

Jenny said...


I'm tickled pink that you liked this one. Let's take the train together!