These notes were written a while ago whilst on a train to london….
My hands are cold. It is difficult to write. My hand feels clumsy, numb and over large. It is late November and I am on a train to London. I use the squeaky plastic fold away tray as my desk for the next hour as the train lumbers along jostling me from side to side.
I was very nervous and anxious at the train station so my first instinct was to write. To write it all down and make the worry dissolve as it usually does when I sit down to write. I was waiting at the station, my stomach not on my side today – doing something strange (strange for me) it felt like it was a pancake being flipped over, flung from side to side then shaken. Horrid nerves. Anxiety. What is this feeling? Why is boarding a train so scary for me? People do it every day – I’ve done it weekly for a time, it was my routine – it was nothing. I wasn’t fazed it was just how I got to work. So why is it different today? Is this the panic of finding my seat on the train in the right coach, will I have to move someone sat down and already settled in. It is such a scramble. How do people do this every day? The heart pounding leap to find the door, and set foot onto the carriage as the whistle blows.
I am on the train, my feet are also cold and my nose is streaming. I feel like my body lets me down as soon as I do something out of my comfort zone. Why is that? It is a normal nerve reaction? A normal response? It’s not fight or flight is it? Flight – my body telling me not to do something, warning me perhaps? Does everyone feel like this when they are travelling? Or is it just me? Is it a symptom of getting older? Getting more anxious about everyday things? I never worry about getting the bus as it’s something I do regularly – so why now boarding a train?
I’m wondering now if I have always been like this. My family have always said I was a good traveller – I was. Perhaps it’s because I’m alone – I’m rarely alone these days with a husband and little one in tow. I’ve been relishing this time to be alone – so why the anxiety? I wanted a weekend of peace and quiet and now I don’t feel so good.
I was stood on the platform looking all around me, for a friendly face or kindred spirit, a nod of encouragement or a small smile – just something to let me know that I’m not alone and “hey its ok, we all do this journey all the time” Then there she was – a friend and fellow school Mum in a bright red coat and twinkling eyes peering at me as if to say “is that you?” A connection – a brief murmur of small talk and I instantly was lifted. The train arrived and still but rather less flustered I found my seat and said out loud “found it” the lady in the seat next to me nods in acknowledgment and continues to tap away at her lap top.
I settle down and begin to write, my mind wanders – do we as humans need connections to feel safe? The woman next to me is pleasant but quietly reassuring “it’s only an hour and we make good time” I feel safe. My friend is on the same train and I feel safe. I note that that morning when buying coffee I was extra chatty to staff, saying hello with an extra smile, just wanting to make a connection. As I’m never usually alone in public (I work from home alone and am quite content all the time) I don’t have time to chat, I’m with my daughter and we rush from one shop to the next, tending to my daughter’s needs. So being alone in public I have the luxury of worrying or overthinking and perhaps that’s just it, perhaps because I’m not usually alone the need for connections is always as prevalent?
Do we worry more as we age, or if we spend time alone? Or is it just me with an hour of quiet and I’m using it by overthinking? As I write I calm slightly. I decide to sit back and listen to the sounds, plan my visit and my things to do list. I note that we are never really alone anymore with our thoughts are we? With our phones in our pockets and social lives (Social media lives) a mere click or swipe away …I did think I would be better at this solitude thing, perhaps it only works when I am at home. Are we as people meant to be alone? I don’t think so – I think there is a basic human need for connection, to feel safe, accepted, happy, and content, in a partnership or collection of amazing friends. I continue to write as the journey progresses and all is well.