The spaces in between

The train to Manchester was busy.

Next to me, leaning against the window and not making eye contact, a man with a backpack. He kept his backpack and his coat on all the way. He hunched uncomfortably on the seat, moving constantly; cracking his knuckles, jiggling his legs, sighing, yawning.

The train took its time, and I distracted myself with my phone. Both of us would rather be anywhere but here, squashed into a train with strangers.

The kind of train journey that doesn’t have space, physically or mentally.

This one does. This train, from Manchester to Norwich, is blissfully empty. Hours of countryside pass by; tunnels, rivers, mountains, woods. I barricade myself into my seat, coat on the chair next to me, bag in front, daring anyone to sit next to me. My own little cocoon.

Then the journey works it’s magic.

The rocking of the train, eyes relaxing over the long views, grey skies giving way to silver, then blue, then back to grey.

The train sings nothing to do, nothing to do, nothing to do.


To think

To relax

To breathe

To dream.

Ideas appear, then drop behind. Contentment spreads.

Ideas reappear, then blossom. The future appears more fluid, more malleable.

And all I have to do is sit here and be transported.

How rare it is to find this space, the space in between. Between departing and arriving, between dreaming and becoming, between beginning and end.

The space where possibilies expand with the horizon, where new futures can be envisioned and old bonds can drop away.

My most audacious goals seem possible

And yet isn’t all life lived in this space, really?

How good we are at distracting ourselves from it, filling our lives up with busyness.

As the land flattens out and the towns get closer together, I start to weave my dreams into reality, mapping out actions for the coming months. Dreaming into doing, breathing thoughts into life.

The train arrives. I depart into the cold night air.


I would like to find ways of inhabiting this in between space more often, instead of leaving it to chance.

How do you find the time and space to reconnect with your dreams and to plan for your future?

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8 thoughts on “The spaces in between

  1. For me it seems to be about having plenty of solitude. Quiet, and time for the day to unfold without rushing. This tends to wax and wane in my life, and when I get too busy I have lost this. Hard to keep the right balance, I think. Sometimes it feels impossible. (I’ve always thought if I had a regular sitting practice that when I became too busy that would be my saving grace, but I’m no longer certain that would be true since for me once I reach a certain stress point my level of presence seems to diminish regardless of what I am doing. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Time for the day to unfold without rushing and plenty of solitude. I like that. It seems like a rare thing, but maybe it can be cultivated and felt inside however ‘busy’ the outside world seems- a state of mind? A regular practice certainly helps, I find that if I am practicing tai chi regularly then my stress levels are generally much lower and life is more peaceful 🙂

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    1. I’m not a morning person….although I can find it in the morning if I don’t have to rush and I can wake up slowly! And I find it while I’m paddling of course.


  2. I love the inbetween spaces wherever and whenever they come. I don’t often go on a train these days but I love those train journeys, when there is space and time to watch the world outside – I always find train and bus journeys good times to think and to create.

    Liked by 1 person

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