Life is still able to surprise me, as I found this morning during my commute to work. On this occasion I didn't have the company of my usual "train buddy", John, who was probably delayed; instead I found myself surrounded by a "gaggle" of middle-aged women; a lively bunch, laughing, chattering, and causing good-natured mayhem.
From their conversation, I gleaned they were on a day trip to London, an exciting excursion into the "Big Smoke". They spoke excitedly of Camden Market, Museums, the Thames, and the "dangers" (retail-wise) of Oxford Street. They were well-prepared too, displaying bag after bag of provisions: wet-wipes, tissues, tourist guide books, food, and surprisingly, washing powder. They offered me a muffin; I declined, "thanks all the same", said I, "but it's too early in the day!". Oh how they laughed, almost.
My destination approached, and as I excused myself from the group, I bid them a good visit. At that moment, approaching the exit, I was overwhelmed by the desire to stay on the train, with a view to tagging along with this jolly group. Feelings long-buried, engulfed me: the forgotten thrill of my youthful, "illicit" days off, when, with my friend, I'd forego the office, and instead, spend the day wasting time sipping beer in a pub (I was living with my parents, and at days end, I'd arrive home, feigning tiredness after a hard day's toil).
Needless to say, I didn't act upon this desire, but I have feelings of regret. A chance missed. And why? Because for most of us, Life insidiously creates around us, a hard veneer of routine, of responsibility, of shoulds, oughts, and musts. We become provincial in every sense, safe, secure, but sadly, limited.
For the first time since my youth, I have no compelling obligation to anyone. Nothing binds me. Not a person, nor place. I'm free to do, as I wish. Then why don't I? Next time, just you see... next time...