Another year, another autumn, another train ride, another country. Another two conferences to connect by some days and some travel. Why fly city to city, and wait, when you can drift along the tracks, absorbing the world around you?
This time, from Vancouver to Toronto, the Canadian. Board in Vancouver on Sunday evening, arrived Toronto Thursday evening. Through the Rockies, through the Prairies, through the woods, and past lakes.
I took hardly any photos – every time I took a photo, I missed something to watch, to properly see… There was so much to fill my eyes and mind: the breadth of the sky, the subtlety of the colours, the wonder of a wild and empty world. Being on the train was a capture into a glass cage of stillness in motion, a tiny community of fellows, a transport of ideas.
In Vancouver, where I was for only a couple of hours between leaving the the aircraft from LA and boarding the train to Toronto, I met a labyrinth artist, HiMY SyED (his website is http://labyrinths.ca/) and we fell into conversation – just a chance encounter in the cool autumn sunshine, as I was drawn to the labyrinth he’d chalked on the open area beside a children’s playground. Mazes and labyrinths, paths with branches and decisions, changing a maze to a labyrinth with a single path of meditation by making a decision. (I typed there at first “a single path of mediation” – a strange mis-step.) Our conversation ranged across Chartres and Cathars, Sufis and Dervishes… and then … the train, and so a brief acquaintance is made and gone.
The train drew out from Vancouver after dark, I sat in my cabin and watched the light of the train’s headlights across the rock faces ahead, and the lights from the windows of carriages ahead of me reflecting in water, flicking lights illuminating so little, hinting at much.
I didn’t sleep much those days – it was too easy to sit at night in my cabin and watch the night sky, overwhelmed by stars and the northern lights curtaining across the wild black.
I didn’t sleep much those days – it was too easy to sit by day and watch the prairie pass by, magnificent in its restrained colours – biscuit and charcoal, fleeing animals, swirls of snow geese rising and falling.
Toronto was the end of the line.