I am on a train. My Poetry playlist is doing what it does; syncing with the sinking sun, blood-orange and blinding, which seems to peek from in between limbs of endless trees in time to the each and every beat. My heart is light, and my feet are (cheekily) perched beside my bottom upon my window seat. The sky is pale and streaked with remnants of plane-trails, blue blending into bruised peach, and I almost cannot breathe.
I am in love.
This is what life is about, surely. This feeling of peace. Absolutely surety; complete calm. It feels like home.
I am not home often.
I struggle to get out of bed without first running through my head every little detail of my day; the dreaded To-Do list. Complete with incomplete tasks from the day before. So I roll over, close my eyes and snooze for ten, again. Why? Because that is a crappy way to start any day, and the last time I will taste stillness till I fall back into bed at night.
I have always been referred to as ‘busy’. Running around like a headless chicken might be a slightly more accurate description. Still, I cry that the sky is falling. There is never enough time. Between spending tocks with friends, family, my partner, university work (of which there will be no more! Hello graduate life), personal projects (which are making the leap to professional portfolio pieces; thank you degree), or work that actually pays the bills, it’s a wonder that I find time to binge on Netflix. (Ah, that’s right; it cuts into that elusive period mortals call ‘sleep’.)
I have had many an opportunity, all of which I thank God for to this day; I am blessed enough to be busy, blessed with big aspirations, motivation and a slice of determination too. However, I have also been burdened with the ability to worry like no other. My brain collects unhelpful thoughts like a hoarder collects ‘this will come in handy’s. After achieving one giant leap forward, I tend to relive the stumbles that came before. After that hurdle is cleared, I’ll reprimand myself for taking so long to jump, and finally? Ponder on the miles left to go. Every single tip-toe-step I need until I reach the dream. Dreams.
I want that final destination, and I kinda want it yesterday.
And then I find myself in a moment like this; coach seat. Comfy. Recliner.
The train terminated, so I’ve hauled ass and caught the connecting coach. Point to note; I arrived at the coach from the train platform and it was heaving already; Oxford train station is closed. As I was writing this lil tidbit through the journey, I forgot to release my bowels so I was more than a little desperate for the toilet. I could not wait a half hour for my arrival. The coach driver, friendly chap, said I had 4 minutes. Maybe three. Headless chicken was activated again. I ran to platform 1– but the toilets were on platform two. I ran to platform two. I squat-peed like Usain Bolt’s legacy depended on it, and then I poulet-sans-tête-d back to the coach. Alas, it was full- and no doubt aromatically sweaty.
Oh, my heart.
“We’ve got another though.” The station attendant presents, with an arm I am suddenly grateful for, a newly arrived Unibus. They’d called for another coach because of the great numbers of people heading to Oxford. I enter, clutching my belongings and stealing breaths like a greedy smoker. It is blue. Beautiful. Empty, but for 3 teenagers at the back, and still smelling fresh. It’s just gone nine-thirty. The sun has slept, and the trees are no longer winking with light, but the sky is only marginally darker, having exchanged pink for lime. Cue The Oh Hellos; Hello my Old Heart. Cue The All American Rejects crooning to my every fibre; Close Your Eyes.
I briefly do. I take a seat adjacent to the Emergency Exit (the chicken in me must have her cake, even if I am to eat it).
And what’s the big deal, right? Of course I can relax; I’ve got talented musicians invading my ears with the sweetest melodies. I’ve got a beautiful view, I have a seat, and I know where I am going. So, here comes the cliche; if life really is a journey, as we’ve all been told via stock photos and an encouraging phrase upon a corny motivational poster, why do I often feel like I am instead navigating a maze with Doom snapping at my heels? I need to get used to the idea that stillness is healthy every now and then. And this really isn’t to suggest I’m putting a pause on hard work, nor that, if you’re anything like me, you should too. However, once I’ve put the work into arriving at the train station on time, I hop on and I enjoy the journey. I don’t spend all the hours of the ride worrying the train will be derailed, delayed, spontaneously combust, or prematurely terminate at an unknown station. Even if it does, a replacement is put in place to ensure that I reach my destination, no matter how many others are headed there alongside me.
As a recent Illustration graduate, my head has been drowned by thoughts concerning all the other illustrators graduating beside me, those already established, and those to come. It is fantastic that our industry is growing the way it is, but my main fear is that, as the market becomes more saturated with talent, I’ll be slow too the pick up, or linger too long as others begin to cultivate all the clients. Will I be able to push myself to stand out amongst my peers? Thanks to New Unibus, though, I know that my fear is invalid. There are so many vocations where this same thought may apply, and it’s one I’m going to cling to from here on out. The truth is, at the end of the day, there’s enough room for everyone. Some will get there quicker, for sure, but if North is where your energy is facing, then that’s the direction your track is headed, and beyond. Enjoy every single, little journey in among the long-haul. Try not to look back in angst, or second-guess each decision you make. Be brave.