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Disconnecting with fear, by connecting on the rails …

An early wake-up call would have me arriving at the Santa Fe Depot Station in San Diego, California, to catch a 5:55 train on route to Seattle, Washington. My final destination would be Vancouver, British Columbia, but for the time being, I was staring down the beginnings of a forty hour train ride. Having just endured nearly forty hours of driving, I was looking forward to having the opportunity to finally just be.

on these rails
we shared our tales
stories from afar
just wishing on a star

ryan.j.drewes

Being an introvert and dealing with social anxiety hasn’t been easy as I’ve navigated my life. I struggle at times to initiate conversations, and sometimes just don’t want to be bothered. I can trace this thing back to my high school days, when for some reason, everything fell off of the tracks. However, I made a promise to myself the evening before, to engage with other passengers as much as I could.

Before we had even departed San Diego, I heard a conversation going on in the seats behind me. I turned around and asked if they were heading to Seattle. They were, sort of. The young couple was en route to Portland, Oregon. It was nice to have met some individuals so early on, that were heading in my direction. Our brief layover in Los Angeles would provide us the opportunity to share our stories over delicious Subway sandwiches.

Immediately after boarding the train, we were assigned seats. It was there I would meet a woman from the Los Angeles area. Seeing how we were going to be neighbors for the next zillion hours, I figured I would get to know her a little bit more. We shared a very brief conversation, but really didn’t get too deep into things till close to the end of our journey.

I would spend a lot of my time bouncing around available seats, as well as the observation car, just taking in the scenery. To say my senses were on overload, would be an understatement.

Later in the evening, I set myself up at a table in the observation car to try and catch the sunset. I would meet a young girl from the Oakland area, who oddly enough was working in New York City. She worked for a publishing company, and we chatted a little bit about the book I had self published in the spring. Before I headed back to my seat for the evening, I wished her well, and told her to say hi to New York City for me.

It was around 9pm by the time I made my way back to our assigned seats, and my friendly neighbor was cuddled up next to the window. She wound up getting up at some point during the night, leaving her seat un-occupied for the remainder of the evening. I guess the best way I could describe sleeping in coach, would be like sardines in a can. I’d wind up sleeping on and off for the majority of the night.

Morning would bring about a beautiful sunrise and the opportunity to meet two more shining souls.

The first being an older gentleman who resided in Oregon. We spoke about the outdoors, converting vans and school buses into a home on wheels, and he inquired about some of the tattoos that were visible to his eyes. 

The last person I would engage with was an older lady. I never asked where she was from, however I knew she was getting off in Portland. We shared some conversations about meditation, photography, our creative outlets and life in general. After mentioning how she had been through a lot the previous year, I decided to gift her with one of my books. She was very grateful to have recieved it and left me with some very kind words. 

A few hours outside of Seattle, I decided to return to my seat. There I would find my neighbor from LA reading through some material. I glanced over to see her reading about the id, ego and the super ego. More conversation to dive into. She shared some of her story, and I shared some of mine. As we both disembarked at Seattle’s King Street Station, we both wished each other well, and headed off into the drizzly night-time skies. 

The day after when I had a chance to look back on the journey I realized something. Each individual I exchanged stories with, held a little piece of me inside of them. Each individual that shared a story with me, I had held a little piece of them inside of me. Was I seeing pieces of my future in others, or were these just random meetings, with totally random strangers?

Had I not by-passed my fears, and let the younger/non-sociable version of myself take over, I would’ve never had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people. 

What in your life do you fear? What have you carried over from your younger years, that you still find yourself avoiding today? Make a concious effort to face those fears. On the other side of that, may very well be the freedom that you seek.

As always, thanks for reading.

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