I love trains. I experience a small thrill every time I see one. It doesn’t matter if it is a freight train, a passenger car, light rail or even a kiddy ride at the park, trains hold a special place in my heart.
So when my spouse, CB, announced we had tickets for a journey on the Verde Valley train, I was quite pleased. The train snaked its way from the quaint Clarkdale’s station to a scenic ranch in Perkinsville and back. I’m not writing an advertisement here, so you can visit www.railsnw.com for more information, but suffice it to say it was an incredible and relaxing way for CB and me to celebrate our 7th anniversary.
But that’s not what this week’s blog is about.
I experienced something during the ride that was a bit of a wake up for me. As I watched the idyllic scenery gently pass by, I had the opportunity to watch the expressions of my fellow passengers. With the exception of one young family, everyone in our car looked to be a card-carrying member of AARP. I’ve taken note of folk’s ages more lately, as my birthday was approaching fast (it’s the day after my anniversary). CB held out the digital camera and took our picture. Then, we asked a nice lady if she would take our picture as well. I’m not fond of having my picture taken. I’m not particularly photogenic, and each picture reminds me that time keeps a chug, chug, chugging along.
However, as I looked at my digitized photo, and at the faces of the women around me, I noticed a serene beauty that I hadn’t noticed before. Instead of my typical mugging-for-the-camera smile, my face looked serene and even beautiful. It wasn’t so much that my features had been enhanced by the trip. I still had wrinkles, my eyes are still small, and I still have three cowlicks in my hair. But, at that moment, and during the train ride, I had nothing else to do but enjoy the surrounding beauty. And it seemed my face reflected the inner tranquility I felt.
Of course there is beauty all around me wherever I am, including during my regular workday, but I am generally too distracted, too busy, or too caught up in my own thoughts to notice. But on this train trip, I was able to loosen up and let the beauty of the canyons wash over me. The lines in my face relaxed and so did my defenses. I was at peace.
After we returned from our trip, I tried to recreate this tranquil state – particularly in my countenance. However, I noticed something odd that I never noticed before. I had a difficult time keeping my face relaxed. It’s as if my eyebrows have minds of their own and constantly want to burrow into my forehead (it’s a look I get when I’m thinking about something.)
I know there are scientific and biological reasons that we age. Genetics, nutrition, lifestyle choices, sun exposure and numerous other factors take a role in the aging process. But in my case – during this train ride – I realized a lot of those lines in my face are from screwing my face up in thought. I don’t take enough time to just "be" and enjoy the moment.
So if you want to reverse the aging process a bit and you don’t have the resources for massages, derm abrasion, botox or expensive face creams, why not try a scenic excursion? It doesn’t have to be riding the rails. It could be a walk in the park, or even a stroll through the neighborhood. It may be hard at first, but take a few moments to watch the graceful dance of a butterfly, the scent of the earth after a rain, or the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze. As they say in the Verde Valley gift shop – it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that counts. So why not fully climb aboard the journey in life and be fully present to enjoy the ride?