The view from the train

Because we’re human, there’s a tendency to think that our experience is somehow universal, or that we are, each of us, special in some way.


Something about traveling that you soon realize: there are billions of people around the world who don’t know who you are, and don’t care.  They have their own lives, their own worlds, their own concerns, none of which involve you.


We met one local in Southeast Asia who knew who Donald Trump was.  One.  It was an elderly Chinese man in a white suit and white shoes in a hotel lobby in Malaysia, and all he said about Donald Trump was: “Good businessman!”  Nobody else cared about Donald Trump.  The President of the United States of America doesn’t matter.  What your friends are doing on Facebook doesn’t matter.  The latest posts on Instagram don’t matter.  What does matter: water, food, shelter, clothes.  The heat on the back of their necks; the health of their banana trees; the stray dogs that keep breeding and threatening the chickens.  The rain on the roof, and the neighbours who keep shouting late at night.  Children, parents, friends, enemies.  That’s it.


That was refreshing.


It’s not even a case of, “One day, all of this will be gone and none of this will matter.”  We may not even have a reliable view of anything; who is to say that we can be objective about the world?  One day, the jungle will take over everything.


What is here now is different than what was here a few moments ago.  Everything is changing.  Everything is impermanent.  We’re all on the train, the train is moving, and it will never stop.



All photos taken from the slow train between Cochin and Kannur, Kerala, India.  

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