The Simple LIfe: The Train
By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Earlier this week, I was browsing through Facebook and I came across this little story, author unknown. It really touched me, and then I spent the next hour or so - really thinking about all of the people who have come and gone. Take a moment to read this story, and see what you think.
"At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel by our side. As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, strangers and even the loves of your life.
“However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.
“Others will step down over time and leave a permanent vacuum. Some, however, will go so unnoticed that we don't realize they vacated their seats. This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.
“The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life."
How many have stepped on to your train during your life? How many took a seat on your train - spending year after year - sharing all of the joys and sorrows of a lifetime? And, when those people had to step off - never to be seen again? These are the losses that all of us must face. Significant, life-altering, heart-breaking losses.
Then, how about those who came on to the train, just when we needed them most? The people who brought us flowers, loved us when we felt unlovable, wrote poetry for us, helped us blossom when we thought we would shrivel up and die. I had such a person. He brought sunshine and love songs into my dark, secret world - and his time on the train was as brief as a morning drizzle of rain on a summer day. When he said goodbye and walked down the steps to the station, a piece of my heart went with him. His seat on my train will intentionally remain empty for the rest of my life - for no one can take the place of that shard of glass.
The ones who came on unnoticed...why did I not pay more attention? Why could I not be a better friend? Why could I not have taken more time to open up myself to allow others to know me? Why was I so closed off to vulnerability and passion? Why was I so afraid to take risks?
Overthinking. Yes, one of my weaknesses. Think about this, think about that, worry about this, and worry about that. Next thing you know, these invisible people are stepping off my train in droves. Too late now, Trish. Missed opportunities.
The train steams along, year after year, and seats fill with the most interesting, beautiful people. And, children! Funny, adorable little babies and toddlers who enrich my life so that my cup runneth over. Being a mother has been my greatest joy in life. These children of mine and the children of my children - blessings from God above.
Reflecting through the years, the mystery of when my life on the train will come to an end. We don't know when that time will be, and I'm not dwelling on it. But, I do wonder who will remain on the train, and I wonder if once my seat is empty, will those who stay seated have beautiful, significant, poignant memories of a live well lived?
For the ones on the train who spent so many years and then had to get off at the next station - those are sad and bittersweet moments. Moments I have to say goodbye to ones who once loved me, but over time, feelings changed and embers only barely simmered. So many memories packed into one of those thought clouds in a cartoon - and poof! They disappear and float off the train like whispers of grey smoke.
We ride on and on, passing station after station, and the ambience on the train is nostalgic, wistful and even a little melancholic. No one is asking the conductor for a stop at the next station, but there is always that possibility.
I love the word possibility. It speaks of things that might be, things that could be...you know - hope. There is always possibility and hope. Even on our trains.
God's blessings as we travel on these magnificent steam engines and cars. May we all stay safe, warm and loved beyond measure.
Until next week...