Saturday, May 25, 2013

Way stations in the night

Fuel up
Woodstock, ON
March 2013
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I spend a lot of time moving between where I am and where I need to be. Which means I have a choice to either lament the surplus of in-between time, or embrace the zen of the journey. I'm all about embracing, so now you know which way I lean.

This particular place is known as an ONnRoute. It's one of a series of service stations alongside major Ontario highways. I grabbed this shot in Woodstock as I headed home from work on a particularly nasty evening.

On the surface, it's a gas station, a collection of fast food joints, and little else. Worse, it looks just like every other ONRoute, an efficiently designed, generically architected and ultimately forgettable facility designed to keep thousands of motorists moving on their way while they forget where they've been. There's no sense of place here, nothing to connect you with the town you're supposedly passing through - but never actually see, touch or experience. In fact, thanks to automated-pay pumps, you can theoretically complete an entire trip without actually encountering another soul. Welcome to the 21st century.

Given all of this, I normally wouldn't have bothered to take a picture. But the traffic had been insane thanks to the zany winter weather and road conditions, and I was feeling particularly reflective as I pulled off the highway and pointed my headlights toward the growing oasis of light up ahead. Before hitting the icy, windswept road for the rest of the trip home, I somehow got it into my head that this was a moment, in an otherwise forgettable place, that shouldn't be forgotten.

Which is my rather inelegant way of saying that every place, even a cookie cutter highway service station, has its merits, its uniquenesses, its reasons for standing out. And it's up to us to take the time to snag them as we move from one place to another. It's a long journey, this life thing. And I'd hate to think of what we'd miss if we wrote every midpoint off as somehow being not worthy.

It took a bitterly cold winter's night to make me realize they're all worthy.

Your turn: your favorite part of the journey is...?

One more thing: turns out I've got a bit of a thing for oases of light, as I've got more than a few examples in the old blog archives. I'm not entirely sure why I keep coming back to this theme, but maybe I should stop questioning why I shoot what I shoot. Here's a quick look back:

1 comment:

Snaggle Tooth said...

Returning home of course~!