Lin Page 8
jammed into incorrect position. It is easy for him to relax into sensible routines while on a plane - the little articles and essays he writes for his living, the stray communiqués he exchanges with his benefactors (for some who are rich and idle enough to get swept up in religious ardor believe him to be some sort of prophet or cosmic being, and he is not about to disabuse them of the notion, especially as their donations pay for his travels).

But trains - trains are a different matter. Each trip he takes by train is by turns joyous and sorrowful, as he sees the jagged cityscapes unfurl, an entire valley squirting past his view within instants, the face of a random person on a platform preserved as a blurred snapshot in memory. So many places to see, and he will never see all of them, never gain more than a glimpse. Those who travel only once a twice or year have come to terms with this fact; they accept that only a fraction of what fills their field of

view will be consigned to the known. And here he is, with more time and more inclination and more freedom to see all that there is, laid bare before him in untrammeled daylight, and it all amounts to a pittance. A caterpillar dreams of soaring as a butterfly, and yet a butterfly dreams too, of lands beyond its circumscribed area of existence, and neither gets what each wants.

Still, there are moments where witnessing the world outside can bring him close to tears. Once he was aboard a train just leaving a station, still moving slowly enough for him to see the details of the town he was leaving behind, and he witnessed a mother and son walking in the opposite direction down the platform, her hand mussing his hair as they exchanged loud laughs, their merged shadow lengthened by the late afternoon, granted the scale of a mountain peak. There was no one else on the platform to interfere with this sight, and the shadow