Posted by: GeekHiker | January 2, 2009

First Thoughts

I’m writing this on paper, sitting on a road next to railroad tracks in the middle of nowhere.

It’s the first of January. I’m driving south, headed back to LA.

The sky is cold, the color of steel gray. The thermometer on the truck says it’s in the low 40’s outside, and a cold wind blows across the San Joaquin Valley. I’m parked just outside Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, having arrived just a few minutes too late to be worth paying the admission fee. They’re closing in ten minutes. Guess I’ll have to try for this one again at some point in the future.

The crossing gates behind me have just closed and a southbound freight train, blowing its horn for all it’s worth, has just thundered behind me. No, wait, he’s just slowed to a stop (and they do take some time to stop) to allow a northbound Amtrak train to pass. Five passenger cars, all empty or nearly so from what I can tell.

There’s even a passenger stop here. A long strip of concrete, brand new from the look of it. I wonder if anyone ever disembarks here?

I think there’s something about trains that every guy loves. It’s a very little boy thing: they’re big, they make a lot of noise, and they move fast.

So now I’m headed home. There’s really only one thing I can truly say was lacking on this trip: time to think. That alone prevents it, in my mind at least, from being a “vacation” in the truest sense of the word.

I find myself thinking of what I’ll be doing when I arrive home in a few hours. Unpacking the car. Starting laundry. Maybe watching the “MythBusters” marathon on Discovery Channel.

And I realize that I’m just wandering from one distraction to the next. Whether it’s drinking with friends in San Francisco, or watching DVDs with The Parentage or (dare I say it?) sitting alone at home reading blogs.

Is it just that all the distractions are so tempting? Or is it something more? Is it possible that, despite all the desire I feel to be alone for a while with my thoughts, I subconsciously avoid it?

After all, if I really wanted to have time to think, would I be better at finding the time to do it?

Food for, well, thought, I suppose. Heh.

There was just a huge bang behind me; the brakes releasing, I think. Looking back, I’m watching several tons of freight slowwwwly start to move forward. The cars creak, the vibrations are shuddering the truck. As I scribble furiously, the train is getting up to speed rapidly now.

The last car just passed, the whole massive thing is moving at 60 miles per hour, heading off into the darkening gray fog that obscures the horizon.

The vibration in the rails is growing quieter and quieter. Nothing but silence now.

I guess I better get back on the road too.



  1. I fill my time alone in the same way. I have to make a very conscious decision to not ‘do’ things when I have stuff to think about, really think about. I find it really easy to avoid myself. 🙂

    Welcome to 2009 🙂

  2. It’s never a good thing when I’m alone with my thoughts for too long – usually it makes me very, very depressed. So, you know, I suppose there is something to be said for sitting around reading blogs, watching t.v./movie marathons (I’m a big fan of L&O: SVU), and such.

    Maybe because I could relate to what you were saying in many ways, but I thought this was a beautiful post, GH 🙂

  3. We often avoid what it is we need most. Whether its a trip to the doctor, an akward phonecall with a friend, or time alone to think and sort things out. Its so much easier to put it off, get to it later. Your mind, your heart, your soul will tell you when its time to turn off the tv, shut down the computer, put the book back on the shelf and just be.

  4. Good post, GH. I’m rarely alone with my thoughts. I usually am joined my friends Mr. TV and Mr. Computer. They usually don’t let me get a word in edgewise. My thoughts has never been very assertive so he often gets drowned out and end us sulking in the corner of the room.

    Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park had been on my short list of places to go that we never managed to get to. That and James Dean’s death place.

  5. Really? Because I do anything to not be alone with my thoughts. Most of the time I can’t turn it off, I’m always thinking about stuff, sometimes stuff that I shouldn’t think about but I can’t turn it off. So all distractions are welcome.

  6. You are an incredible writer! This was a beautiful post.

  7. I wish my ind worked as beautifully as yours at a stop. I usually start making a grocery list or wondering how many laundry loads I can fit in before Beverly Hills, 90210.

  8. Awesomely written!

  9. it is so hard to focus with all the distractions, a constant need to fill time, a desire to do something, anything. it’s weird how all our newfangled inventions bring people closer yet push them further apart.

  10. Almost forgot to comment-reply on this one. Ooops.

    Just A Girl – It’s just too easy to avoid, isn’t it?

    East Coast Teacher – Sometimes there is something to be said for sitting around, but I find it too easy to do all the time, you know? Thanks for the compliment!

    BackPackerMomma – You are so wise. I wonder if I’ll ever know the time?

    Homer-Dog – Man, your friends are bossy! 😉

    Wendy – I suppose it’s not just alone with my thoughts, more that there are big, important things I should be giving thought to… and am not.

    Ruby – Thank you.

    TheCoconutDiaries – LOL – Luckily I already knew I had a ton of laundry to do when I got back!

    Narami – Thanks!

    Blakspring – It’s an amazing phenomenon, particularly when it works on oneself!

  11. If our condition were truly happy, we would not seek diversion from it in order to make ourselves happy.
    –Blaise Pascal

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