April 27, 2006

To take the tube or to walk?

In London, as in life, there are at least two ways of getting anywhere. Either you concentrate on the destination and getting there as quickly and efficiently as possible. Or you can give yourself up to enjoying the journey.

The London Underground is clearly designed for the former attitude by transporting you to your destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is fairly easy to use, you follow a procedural predescribed route devised from an abstract representation, and although the map has little relation to physical locations, still, it enables you to get to the destination. After a few journeys, there is little to enjoy about the journey itself, it is simply a means of getting where you want to go. It is not pleasant going underground on dark, dingy, fume–filled trains. How difficult it is to observe smiling faces on the tube. But people do it everyday in order to get to that destination, where they will start another journey.

There is another way to get around London. It is not as quick and efficient, but it is more healthy, for both body and mind. You can walk. Instead of following the procedural "tube" method for getting to your destination, you just head in the right direction. You will see and experience each place that you pass through. Each place will be different, unlike the stations that you pass on the tube. There is more to be experienced by walking. Each and every journey will be different. You will learn about the places that you pass through, you may even discover things that you did not know existed. You might not get to your destination as quickly, but what does it really matter, for you will probably go somewhere else after that anyway. At least you have enjoyed the journey.

And so it is with life. You can rush to achieve a goal as quickly as possible, and potentially miss many places on the way. Or you can head off in the right direction and let your experience guide you from place to place. Slowly, but surely, you will make your way towards a greater goal: discovering that life is all about the journey.

- 3 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Eleanor Lovell

    I have a real aversion to the tube – all the miserable people in suits squeezed onto the platform at rush as the tube comes clattering down the track and all the wind blows into your face (usually with a waft of bad odour) then everyone pushes onto the tube and you end up stood next to a smelly mans armpit as he holds onto the overhead handles and you hold on for dear life incase you fall over! I choose walkng any day. And I like your philosophy behind it too!

    27 Apr 2006, 13:43

  2. Ant, I didn't even know you were in London! I like you entry tho – very poetic, I was quite taken aback :). I think I know what you mean too – I'm quite good at rushing around to get somewhere not paying attention to where I actually am. Although – even if life is all about the journey – you still might just want to avoid London all together…

    Hehehe… I hope Hema doesn't read this :P

    29 Apr 2006, 17:26

  3. PenguinA

    In the rush hours London undergrounds are like that. However, I always found it a really relaxing and participating journey every saturday when I take the tube to the Chinese school and come back from there, especially when it was a good day. It was like a city train journey, you can see the landscapes outisde the train (from zone2 outwards it's all on ground travelling), or the land (well, ethno) scapes inside. It's a good moment when you can observe and learn how people look like, what are the tiny things they do, how do they express themselves. In some extreme occassions, you are given the opportunity to help them and then making a conversation. You know, just like how writers in the old times sitting in the cafes to see the world as it goes. Inside the tube carriges the world goes as it does in any other places, of course when it is not those depressing rush hours. So I guess I gradually become a weekend tube geek. I love writing about people I saw on public transportations, they are like me and you and everyone we know – sometimes cute, sometimes ugly, sometimes polite, sometimes lousy. Such is life. I guess it's not entirely about in what way, or what form it is. It is what it is. And we put our emotions in to flavour it.

    Or perhaps, it is just the coming of spring, you know, flower blosoming, sun shining, people beaming, and… just nice.

    29 Apr 2006, 23:36

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Norman Cousins
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