These tracks, how they move people still

Chris Richards

Windsor, Canada

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What is it about aged things that attract us? What is the allure of a condemned factory in the empty part of town, a dilapidated barn in the middle of a neglected field, or a set of abandoned train tracks that have given way to nature in the middle of a forest? Is it natural human curiosity? Do we associate these forgotten places and things with forgotten times? Do we try to relive these times?

There is something enchanting about the old, the discarded, and the untouched, a sensation of something so foreign and new that can only resonate from something common and decades unused. We find an open window into that condemned factory, despite the fact it may fall to pieces on our heads with the lightest of misplaced steps. We trudge out to the middle of that
neglected field to peer inside the dilapidated barn, all the while knowing full well that the only animals we’re likely to meet are those we’d rather avoid. We follow the set of abandoned tracks that have succumbed to nature. We march through the brush, and over and around fallen trees, knowing that sooner rather than later the tracks are bound to disappear before our feet. All of this, yet we continue on regardless.

Are we searching for meaning, or do we mean to just search with no end in mind?

This photo was taken in a woodland that I frequent on my bike. The day this photo was taken was the first day I had discovered these tracks, and although the concept of a trains having traveled through there before was completely normal and acceptable to me, there was the strange allure of walking along something so old and discarded, yet still there nonetheless. When the Romans and Greeks constructed their establishments with stone to survive millennium after millennium, we have been reduced to creating buildings and structures that are meant to last half a century, at best. After this point, everything is uprooted, destroyed, and recycled to be used again…. but where is our thumb print?

I believe that the moments brought on by these typical yet extraordinary remnants of years past are so invigorating because of just that; they are symbols of the past in an age where nothing is meant to last. Walking along those forlorn train tracks – tracks that are not tracks at all, but only the ties to which tracks would have been laid – was such a captivating and mesmerizing experience, I had at any moment expected to emerge in C.S. Lewis’ land of Narnia. It is one thing to know we came from someone, from something, generations before us, but it is a completely different situation to be able to step upon that same ground, to be where others have been. And the more we become accustomed to destroying and creating impermanent things as a worldwide people, the more aides we need to be engrossed in that magical feeling of how we’re both astronomically integral yet ever so insignificant in the grand scheme of things that is our existence, and what has led to it.

I don’t know if I just over thought train tracks or if what I wrote has a glimmer of truth, but all I know is that the feelings I experienced discovering and then following those tracks was every curious, adventurous, uplifting, and humbling emotion I could perceive, all rolled into one moment of realisation that I’m a small part in something big, significant but not at the same time. I don’t know what makes me ponder these things at such odd times, but they happen for a reason, and, for those times, I am thankful.

Though the tracks may be empty, oh, how they move people still.

Oh, how they move me still.


Artwork Comments

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