Being a commuter to London – or to any big city – can leave you feeling like a bit of a zombie. Heads down, gazes averted, we spend our morning journey avoiding eye contact and absorbing ourselves in our own little world. This might be a book, music, or technological wizardry that allows you to watch TV. The number of books I’ve read since starting a job in the city has trebled, and I do enjoy it. But it makes me sad too. By the time I get off the train, I’m not feeling energised and ready for the day – I’m in just about the same state as I was when my alarm went off, if only a little better dressed. The day isn’t set up for productivity, but instead begins with a bleary eyed stagger from the carriage to the office, the train bubble burst so rudely and suddenly you can’t quite remember where you are.
So I’ve decided to make a change. It probably seems small and silly to even mention it, but it’s a change nonetheless and one that I’m already feeling better for. In the mornings, on my 8:43 train, I try not to read my Kindle (gasp!). Instead, I look out the window, with eyes wide, and take in the trackside scenery. Coming home now the evenings are getting longer, I sometimes do the same and admire the sunset. Just yesterday I spotted a beautiful rainbow towards Kennington – looking around my carriage, not a single other person had shifted their concentration from their lap. So that rainbow was my own, beautiful and vibrant for those who dare to look up. The rain storms produce some spectacular cloud displays, and as the sun fades to a dazzling orange, they’re lit up like a painting.
This probably sounds a bit bizarre. A bit airy-fairy, and not the ‘down to earth’ writing I tend towards. Perhaps it’s because at the moment I’m feeling stressed and deflated by work and so am grasping at the little things to keep me going. In fact, I’m sure that’s it. For the last few weeks I’ve woken up with a feeling of dread and nausea; just the simple act of engaging with my surroundings stops me from bursting into tears or turning in on myself. I can face the day knowing that my return journey will show off the sky in a different way. The little things that make each day move slightly easier, at the very least bookending the office with a ray of sunshine.
So take from this what you will. The random scribblings of someone who has a lot to say and few to say it to. Or insight into how to make each day a little bit more special, a little less grey, and less likely to turn you into the undead. Even dark skies have a dramatic tale to tell if you just keep your head up and read them…
© Ben Howard