We’ve done some pretty epic journeys in the last year or so, travelling across the UK by train, and in the child’s case, also a 5 hour car trip (partly due to bad traffic). We all know the stories about travelling with children. The griping, fighting, complaining, the boredom and throwing up… Wendy Arrowsmith sums up rather well in the song “Are we nearly there yet” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WouoV8XfYs0
Increasingly we seem to keep children entertained. There’s not much unstructured time for the modern kid. Travelling is now made ‘easier’ by portable dvd players, hand held computer games and other such distractions. The one thing we don’t mostly teach is how to travel well, and a look around at your typical adult on a train or in a station explains why: We’re mostly rubbish travellers as adults too. Deep in a book, the laptop, staring into the middle distance, the one thing we aren’t is present.
The person who is in the moment, interested, attentive, does not get bored when travelling. There’s a constantly changing scene outside the window. On a train, there are scores of other people. The person who finds things interesting does not struggle to take interest. And so hours of journey become a relishing of landscape, a chance to see something of other people, time spent being alive, alert and present. No, doing it every day doesn’t have to mean boredom, the view changes with the seasons, the weather… I’ve done the regular commute over three years of travelling into college every day. There’s no requirement to be bored.
It’s not about being some ancient and wise life form, either. I say this, because the child has mastered the art of travelling well. He’s interested. None of those huge cross country treks have been difficult, for which I am both very grateful, and a bit smug.
Wherever we are, there is something. Other living things around us even in the most apparently sterile places. Remnants from the past, signs of the future, possibilities, people… there’s a whole world out there. The trick is to get out of the hand held attention absorber and be here for a bit, wherever ‘here’ happens to be…