What is This Life?

There is a poem called Leisure by W. H. Davies that begins:

What is this life if, full of care.
We have no time to stand and stare?

Parliament Station CrowdI found his words echoing in my head when I travelled into the city the other day by train. It seemed almost nobody was taking time to ‘stand and stare’.

Everyone around me seemed to be in such a hurry. Heads down, they bustled past me off the train and up the escalators. An ocean of brown, black and gray flowed past me, with only the occasional splash of bright colour to relieve the monotony.

For a moment I felt a little conspicuous myself, in my bright red jacket … :) But took comfort from the other brightly coloured dots like me that were scattered in the crowd.

I saw one gentleman in a bright green shirt who hurried past and up the escalator ahead of me.

Stand on the left, walk up on the right is the ‘rule’ on our station escalators. I guess some folk walk up for the exercise, some are worried they may otherwise be late for work.

Parliament Station EscalatorAs I watched Mr Green Shirt pace up from step to step, I found myself making up a story in my head. Of course he wouldn’t be heading for work, as he wasn’t dressed for it. In my imagination he was headed for breakfast with a loved one – hurrying in anticipation. I imagined him reaching the café, taking a seat at a table, eying his watch anxiously. He’d made it on time, but where was she? Then, oh joy … there she was, also hurrying to their rendezvous. Both faces lighting up in pleasure … scene cut to fade out.

I was smiling at my own foolishness as I walked out of the station towards the tram stop. It was pouring with rain, so some folk had paused by the station door to wait for it to ease a little. How silly not to have an umbrella with you in Melbourne! :)

Outside even the black, brown and grey contingent suddenly sprouted bright colours as they raised their umbrellas. And as I waited for my tram, I watched in delight the stream of hurrying folk on the opposite pavement, looking for all the world like brightly coloured, walking mushrooms.

Lady on the TracksA long though uneventful day of work later, on my way home, I also saw the ghost of a lady at Parliament station! Ok, ok … so something had been spilled on the tracks. But there she was. A well-dressed lady from the 1920s, complete with cloche hat, holding a mug of coffee in her hand.

Stop, stare and imagine … what a joy it can be. And it definitely added sunshine to my life on that rainy day in the city.

As W. H. Davies’ poem concludes:

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

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