Vikas, whose voice took me a moment to recognise, the father of two who had sat and smiled and sang along in the earlier music session, was sitting in the darkness, one row ahead of me. He said hello as I got into my seat. He had been there for a while, and had a constellation app on a device which, when pointed at the sky, drew lines between the stars and identified planets.
We began a conversation that was first about why certain constellations could be one’s favourite (mine is Orion, and it is because my dad showed it to me when I was little, my go-to constellation). We went quickly and obviously to the notion of being overwhelmed by the vastness of it all, agreed how tiny and insignificant we were, but, I added, even more remarkable is that, even so, we have immense and endless creative capacity.
The conversation ebbed and flowed between gentle points and gentle counterpoints. Easily, without any forcefulness or pride, in gentle tones in the darkness, we compared life-notes, delighting in our mutual affinity for public transit, for travel, for less time watching television and more time engaging with the natural world around us, for learning, and as we did the moon rose up, yellow and hazy.
As the train moved, serpentine, through the rocky night-terrain of the Canadian Shield, from one minute to the next the moon went from being on our far left to our far right, and sometimes it sat right above the body of the train, and the winding metal roof, which we could see from our raised and windowed dome car, would glimmer in the moonlight. I had never before realised what a winding path the train tracks took. It took the moon to reveal it.
I told him I had written a poem once in which I noted that the moon knows me best, because as I travel from place to place, it is the only constant witness to my life. Why does it feel like if we look at the moon it is looking back, I asked, even though we know it is not sentient? Maybe it is because we are made of the same stuff, stardust, he replied. And maybe words cannot explain why we feel it cares about us the way we care about it. Maybe some things are better without explanation.
We sat and continued these thoughts out loud, watching the trees in the darkness, enjoying the smooth sound and motion of the long train, talking of life choices, goals and randomness, of courage and change, and of humbleness. We knew the next day we would be arriving in Toronto, and life would go back to its hectic pace.
So for now, we sat and enjoyed the feeling of timelessness that only a night trip can provide, our train ride to the moon. We knew we’d never get there, but the journey was spectacular. #MyRoadLife