Now I suppose you could say I am sitting here for a number of reasons. For instance I’m sitting here because a car accident some years ago pushed my insurance premiums to such extortionate levels that to have kept the car anyway and paid them would’ve seemed somehow immoral. And so I didn’t, I got rid of the car, which is why I’m here, on this bus.
Many of you will know what they’re like, these clunky diesel-fuelled zeppelins lumbering over tarmac like huge metallic slugs, thinly upholstered seats with their cheap foam underlay, sleeved in garishly coloured fabrics that resemble something between 1960s wallpaper and a drunken work of Picasso. And let’s not get me started on the driving.
And so maybe you could say that my being here is unfortunate, even sad, as you may have guessed I’m no great fan of buses. Except, sitting here now, I’m not so sure it’s really that bad; I’m watching the passage of city lampposts, the neon glimmer of restaurant signs, the twin streaking moons of car headlights all reduced by the raindrops pimpling the window to tiny circlets of restless colour. And over it all is my own reflection, staring back at me from the perspex pane like a ghost in the night, smiling. Yes, I’m smiling.
I’m smiling because as I look around I find there are many things here that are in a weird way beautiful. Like the way the little boy in front of me keeps staring out of the window and trying to press his face, against his mother’s wishes, into his dirty reflection. Or the way the heads of the other seated bus passengers sway and jolt in perfect synchrony as if to some silent rhythm of the soul. You should try it some time. Watching those lazily bobbing heads, like corks in water, none of them missing a beat.
Ok so I’m a little weird but I guess what I’m trying to say is the journey’s a pretty good place once you stop thinking about the destination long enough to enjoy it. And being here, on this bus, reminds me of that, reminds me that wherever I may be trying to get to – my plans or goals or whatever – isn’t always as important as I might think, that life is what happens here, right now, in this very moment, and everything else – the things we worry about, the things we hope for, things yet to come – is a distraction. That’s the truth that children know and we forget: That the one thing that we can, if we choose to, almost always embrace and enjoy, is the present.