Oct 24 2008
The chill in the air is not yet cold enough to merit my big coat. There’s no rain and the bite of the cool breeze, this morning, is more a wake up call than a winter’s annoyance. I wander down towards Greystones train station at a leisurely pace – I’m on time, so there’s no need to run. I see the bank official arrive on his motorbike, as he does every morning, and I nod to him a good morning. The nod is returned and thus is the extent of our relationship. I get my newspaper from the shop and exchange brief pleasantries with Eamonn, the shop’s owner. There is a relaxed atmosphere and a buzz in the air that is welcome, but unusual. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who senses it. Perhaps it’s just me.
The train is on time. We have not heard complaints of leaves on the tracks, delaying the mighty cabooses. In my usual seat, I look around at familiar strangers and see bleary eyes that would rather be shut tight in their beds that feigning alertness on this early morning train. Monday’s depressed expressions have all but disappeared as my fellow travellers relish the end the week. A faint glint of the weekend’s plans twinkles in the corners of their eye sockets. No thoughts of work, of the boss, of paperwork and sales targets, of invoicing and budget meetings. Instead there’s the glimmer of that girl he might see in the bar, the guy she fancies at her gym, the match, the gig, the show, the birthday party where they might get drunk and forget their troubles for just a few hours. I don’t see happiness in people’s eyes on this Autumn morning, but neither do I see sadness. I see something far more interesting – I see hope. The hope of fun and laughter with friends, the hope of love springing forth, the hope for better, for greater, for something different. Or perhaps, it’s just me.
I turn and stare out the window at the Irish Sea. The same sea I drift past every morning, the same cliffs I peer down, the same distant horizon. But this morning seems significant. The sea is calm and even the birds are busier than usual, in preparation for harsher times ahead maybe. Perhaps it’s just me. I look back at my fellow travellers and see the bleary eyes again. This time I struggle to find the hope and glimmer of something different. What just changed? Moments earlier, I saw beauty and a glimpse of passion. Now I can only see empty vessels. What happened? Is it just me?
We stop at Sandycove and something rejuvenates the carriage. A cackle of cool kids disembark and take their Oh-My-God’s with them, along with their loud prattle and designer linguistics. There’s an audible sigh of relief as the final uniformed girlie skips away, only to be replaced by two young couples dressed all in black. Their goth apparel and pale faces cannot hide their innocent glee. They sit on the floor beside the sliding doors and quietly talk about the Harry Potter movies. Their enthusiastic youth, unbetrayed by their gothic dress sense, has already given rise to smiles from a few people sitting close to them. The anachronism of the scene seemed to bring change. These four dark children were brightening the carriage. An older couple, who I would have assumed to be travelling separately suddenly snuggle together and smile. A snoring man wakes up and is greeted by laughter from what appears to be his son. Others around them laugh too and the mood of the carriage is lifted further. Then gradually, there is a low hum of chatter, as the tired faces all around me begin to liven up and engage with each other. It’s not just me. I can see surprised faces, watching the event unfold, just as in awe as I. They smile at each other. They smile at me. On this morning, on this carriage, on this train, a significant event unfurls, as the world opens itself up and community spirit awakes. The train stops at the next station and the next and each time complete strangers say goodbye to each other, wish each other a good day and, what’s more, they mean it. There is joy on this carriage this morning and each and every person is taking some of it with them today.
So, to each of my fellow travellers this morning, I wish you all a good day. Today is a good day. Today is a great day.