“Sometimes the moments we hold dear have little or nothing to do with a place, and everything to do with ourselves, and the way we choose to look at them. “
I believe that the happiest of times are accompanied by the spark of spontaneity and the surprise of the unexpected. What really makes a moment burst into pure joy is it occurring in the midst of something ordinary, and out of the blue.
Not so long ago and after a long journey back to where our home was at the time, one of these moments took over me. It was one of those moments some call ‘photographic’ merely because it freezes everything for a second, allowing you to take it all in. Those that make you aware of all the beauty laying right in front of your eyes, all that can actually make you forget about what troubles you; even if it’s just for a while…you instantly know it’s worth your while.
My friends and I were travelling from Prague to Heidelberg. We had taken 3 trains, ate nothing all day, and slept no more than 5 hours the whole weekend. I think I don’t need to describe how tired we felt; all we wanted by the time we boarded the last train, was to arrive, go to our houses, and fall deep into slumber after having eaten a delicious (and probably unhealthy) dinner.
The moment I remember dearly occurred at dusk while we were on the train. We were sitting down in our little cabin, waiting for the train to turn on the engines and take us back ‘home’. Some were complaining about this and that, others were arranging their luggage in the upper compartment, and as to myself? I was sitting by the window, contemplating the last minutes of sunlight. I was definitely daydreaming when something hit me. Not mentally, but something had actually hit me.
When I looked up, I saw the top window was open; a gummy bear had flown in, and had randomly landed on my head. As bizarre as this was, it was what made me stand up on my seat and look out the window to see what was going on. Unknowingly this led me to witnessing the moment I now love the most.
When I got up and peeped out, a gigantic wave of air disarranged my hair and made it dance all around. There was a storm coming so the wind was blowing strong. Just then, the train began to move. It wasn’t dangerous, (to have my head sticking out a moving train) there was nothing ahead I could hit my head with; it was an open-air ride this time, and because of what I saw outside, I decided to stay there.
I could see the middle and front of the train from the outside. The curved wagons altogether made the perfect focus for the green forests we were travelling by.
Because of my evident amazement, one by one, my 5 friends decided to join me. Suddenly it was the six of us standing on the train seats of our private and cozy cabin, poking our heads out and feeling the clean air, brush our hair away from our faces. We began to laugh so hard, I remember my cheeks hurt. We tried to talk to each other but our loud screams weren’t serving their purpose because of the roaring masses of air that were passing us by like a whirlwind.
Soon and gradually, little cold droplets of water decided to join the turbulent wind. It was the perfect moment for it to rain. We could see nothing but dark green forests ahead, and above, all dark skies. We felt the adrenaline caused by the movement and could smell the humid grass from the forests ahead. My friends and I were just laughing and screaming random stuff as we felt the world listen to our voices.
Looking out, wherever my sight landed, was like a watercolour painting. Slightly touched by water and so beautiful. My friends and I were signing to a Katy Perry’s song as we advanced through the road. After a solid 15-20 minutes of singing, I stopped and concentrated on the darkness of the night and the natural surroundings that somehow brought immense peace to my life.
I then realised my hair was wet and cold, and my throat had begun to soar from all the screaming. I knew I was definitely catching a cold, but why on earth was I going to care? I was on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the furthest and for the longest I had been from my home. I was on my own this time, traveling the world with the people who had become my family along the journey. It was a different kind of happy from the one I’d known; an independent, sincere, and exuberant kind of happy. Like there was nothing wrong in the world, like everything had fallen into place just for me.
It was then when it all became slow motion for my eyes. At this precise juncture I became aware of how immensely lucky I was to be there.
In my slow-motioned mind, I saw myself, accompanied by the best combination of personalities–those people who I had met just that year, and who had become so important to me in a matter of weeks. I saw us laughing and talking like we knew each other since childhood.
That’s what travel does to people, specially if you travel together. It makes time irrelevant. At that point in time it’s just you and them, and that becomes the bond you share which brings you closer to them, resulting in an enduring friendship.
I know this is such a random memory. Who would have thought that what I would remember most would be the last train ride taking us back? When I think about it I know it is because of the feelings attached to it, and the uncertainty that lead me to experiencing it.
We thought the journey was over, but a moment can mean a great deal, as ordinary as it may seem, when you reflect about it. When it triggers thoughts and emotions that when the moment has passed, make you look back with sweet nostalgia.
Today, I vividly remember everything about that moment. I recall the yellow lighting in the train, the sound the engines made as they pushed the train forward, and in harmony, the sound of rain and intense laughter–all which became the soundtrack of my spring.
When you learn to see the beauty in the ordinary, you’ll find your ordinary life is actually extraordinary.
In case you were wandering, the mystery of the flying gummy bear was never solved. I think about that gummy bear as the signal that made me stand up, and live one of my favourite travel moments. Though I’ll never know where it came from…