The Inspiring Place That Moves

Over recent years, Atlanta has become one of the largest cities in the United States. Numerous suburban areas have formed all around the heart of Atlanta. Many transportation options are used to connect these areas: the local highways or roads, one's vehicle, buses and taxis. I believe the most inspiring option is MARTA - Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. During the coldest days of January 2004, to the hottest days of August 2004, I had nothing that I could drive until I received my driver's license and bought a car. I took MARTA to go to school, to meet people, and sometimes to have one-day trips to downtown Atlanta.
Nowadays, I drive a car so I can go anywhere I want to. I feel extremely fortunate with my current condition because I have a car when I need it. I sometimes feel nostalgic about the time back then when I was taking MARTA; thus, I decided to ride a MARTA train once again for a day, for old time's sake, seeing many sorts of people's lives and observing different ways of life.
It was a crazy, hot summer day of September. As I parked my car and got out, the sun was boiling. Everything was sizzling. After a little confusion with the newly changed toll and entrance system, I went up to the platform with anticipation for the trip I would soon take. Waiting for the train as though I was waiting for an old friend, the car finally arrived. I went all the way down and got in the last car where I used to ride. A family and an old man were there already waiting for the train to depart. I had a seat in the middle of the train next to the window, the place I always preferred.
After an older, restless woman swept everything on the floor including pennies which were left out in the cold, the train beeped, closed its doors and departed slowly as if it did not like to go the long way to the airport station, the last station on the line. I looked outside through the clouded window, exactly like I used to do. The scene that was stopped started moving from left to right, getting faster and faster. Factories, houses, and stores – everything that existed in front of my eyes – were starting to move. As the train reached its maximum speed eventually, everything looked like lines which consisted of many colors and feelings.
The train approached the next station, Chamblee, where many people entered the train, all distinctive in ethnicity and gender. An Asian woman who immediately caught my eyes wore a white baseball cap with the logo of the New York Yankees printed on the front and she listened to music with her earphones. She got a seat opposite me and started to knit a violet sweater. I suddenly wondered: why was she knitting? for whom? I was sure that it could not be for a child by the looks of it. Then it might be for somebody she loved. That scene, a woman knitting in a moving train, showed so human to me somehow.
The inside of the train was getting much noisier as a number of people entered. I thought that I could hear every sound that the world can give. The noise of the train's wheels, the sad sound of a song from the earphones of a teenage boy sitting behind me and, mostly, the loud and disordered conversation of the people who packed the train. I looked all around. A couple of middle-aged women sitting in front of me were talking to each other with happy smiles on their faces. They had large suitcases so I could guess they were on their way to some place where they were expecting people to great them. I remembered the Asian woman and turned my head quickly to check if she was still there. She had left, and without any reason, I felt that I had lost my companion for this trip. As the train stopped the announcement was, "Five Points, this station is the Five Points station. You can transfer to the East bound or the West bound at this station." People rushed to the doors to continue the next part of the journey to their destinations.
From the scene I saw at the station, I guessed that is how life works; though in this small place, people get in and out. I remembered a quote from a teaching of Buddhism: "Nothing belongs to you, like you indeed belong to nothing." I grinned as if I finally solved a life-long assignment I had been given. While realizing that this might be a simple and useless thing, the scene outside turned bright all of sudden like Gautama Siddhartha who established Buddhism about 2500 years ago by finding great illumination in mortification.
Through the dusty window, the gloomy, gray skyscrapers of the city of Atlanta were getting further away from me. I saw grotesque graffiti on walls, many advertisements on billboards in the deep blue sky, an old abandoned house, and the reflection of the drowsing old man who was sitting next to me.
"Airport station, this is the airport station. This is the last station on this train. Thank you for using MARTA." Leaving behind many pieces of thoughts in the train, I got out of the car whispering, "Thanks, bye" to the train and the husky-voiced-operator which had brought me here to the last station. People were in a hurry to go down the stairs to get to their plane or arriving party. I was the only one who did not run to go down, but walked slowly to the other side of the platform to wait for the next train heading to the north, where I had come from.
MARTA connects a place to a place, people to people, and for me, a thought to a thought. It is inspiring by simply sitting there and looking at people. Metro Atlanta makes me think of various topics. It does not matter what varieties of thoughts I get involved in. Therefore, MARTA is not only a manner of transportation, but also an opportunity for observation. I watch, hear, and feel something, then try to decode the meaning that hides behind of it.
The return trip was nothing special. I isolated myself by listening to noisy, heavy rock music from my earphones and stared out at the same outside scene through the window as I had seen on the trip to the South; however, it was not exactly the same because it was moving right to left, but this time, with a red sunset casting over Atlanta. I felt peaceful.

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