Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Friendship on Time Limit

Out of a lack of better things to do and too much time on our hands, my friends and I took the long route from Melbourne to Sydney then to Newcastle. By long I meant a 14-hour train ride instead of the more convenient hour and a half trip by plane. We reckoned that it would be a good idea to experience our first long train ride. Surprisingly, I found the trip to be much less boring than I imagined it to be. The route was scenic and it was a chance to keep the mind free and rested from the worries of daily life.

What got my attention for the most part of the trip were two old men just one row before us and across the opposite side of the train. When the train left Melbourne, one of these old men was by himself. He was minding his business drinking coffee from his big stainless steel thermal mug while reading a book whose title I couldn't quite figure out from afar. An hour and several train stations later, the train was almost full. The seat beside the old man was still empty though. Thirty minutes more into the trip, the train halted at a station where an old man in brown parka embarked. He was looking for his seat and found himself beside the other old man.

I could tell that it was their first time to meet each other because there was the exchange of usual
niceties. They talked casually and then my eyes decided to shut down on me as I dozed off for
half an hour or so. I was awakened by the same two old men laughing and sharing stories in a
very engaged manner. You could tell how much fun they were having judging by their body language. Their bodies were angled toward each other, eye contact established, smiles natural, and arms flailing when they were about to express something important. Oh and when they laughed, you could never tell that they just met on the train . Had I not known that fact, I would have thought of them as close friends, best friends even. And they just kept talking and talking for hours. They talked about riding horses, their kids, and a lot of other topics. The only time they kept quiet was when one of them had to buy food from the train cafĂ©. And the conversation ended only when the second old man had to go down the train. And that was 5 hours after they first said hello to each other. They bid each other goodbye, exchanged cards, and said they'd keep in touch.

To be candidly honest, while I was observing them, I couldn't wrap my mind over how two people can become so engaged in an open and sincere conversation knowing that in a few hours, they might never see each other again. And then it struck me that this train ride was trying to teach me a lesson about my current situation in Australia. I asked myself why I went through the trouble of making good friends here in Australia knowing that in a year's time, we would have to say goodbye. Some of them I've even been friends for just a couple of months. My friendship with these people, similar to that of the two old men, is on a time limit. I felt that time was being stolen from me and my friends. That each day brought us closer to the end.

Amidst this lingering melancholy, I'm glad that I found my answer to this question. I chose to be friends with these people despite the time limit because friendship is a beautiful thing and should not be encumbered with worries or anxiety that we might no longer be friends in the future. By itself, friendship is beautiful and should be treasured the moment it arises. It should be enjoyed here, now. If it does develop into stronger bonds in the future, then that's beautiful! But if not, it doesn't make the current friendship any less beautiful.

So while I have been whiling away my time in Australia for the past months, I made a conscious choice to treasure the limited time that I had left with my friends. Because each and every single moment, whether short or relatively long, is beautiful in itself. I miss those who have left. I am already missing those who will be leaving and those whom I'll be leaving behind. But hey, just like the two old men on that train, we have the choice to keep in touch.

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