T.H.ursdays with Tom Hill
Sometimes “perspective” is all one needs to get that epiphany, to get that “ah ha” moment. You might hear words that gets you thinking. Your mind wanders. You think of one thing which takes you to another thing that eventually leads to the “ah ha." I was on that path when someone suggested the poem “Stations.”
Stations is all about looking at life like a series of stations you encounter on a train trip. If you read Stations you’ll see the author says it's about the path between the stations that's important vs actually getting to one of the stations. I took that concept and came up with this article, your life like a train on a track with stations coming at you. Let me explain.
Imagine you're on a train, the train of life. It's on a track that fades to the rear so it shows your past, where you've been. As you speed forward, stations whip by - events in your life. You see them. You experience them. You wonder about them as they recede into the past. In the distance, towards the back, they get smaller. They're harder to see yet they are part of you, part of your memory.
Then, you turn. Looking forward into the future, along the track, in the direction the train is going, you see a thick, gray fog. The tracks in front of the train fade into the fog of the future. Even though the train's light is bright, it doesn't break the fog. The fog is too thick. The future is obscured. You can't see the stations until they’re almost on you. They speed out of the mist like a surprise, then whip backwards into the past.
The stations are coming too quickly, so you "will" the train to slow down. (You are the conductor of your life after all.) The train seems to slow but it's hard to tell looking forward. The fog is too thick to gauge speed. Still, the stations arrive unannounced just as before. It’s still hard to anticipate the stations. Going slow doesn't make you more prepared for the future. You can't see any better into the future. The fog is still there.
"That didn't work," you say. "I'll go to the back of the train to look where the train has been. I will look backwards and predict where the tracks are going based on where the train has traveled before."
As you're on the caboose of your life looking backwards, satisfied with your new approach, you see stations whip by. Your happiness is brief. The stations go by but they aren't quite what you expected. You predict a green station but a red one flies by. You anticipate a large station but the next station is too small.
What you foretell looking backwards from the caboose doesn't align with what's happening. The stations don’t match your predictions. There's something wrong. Thoughts form in your head. "What if the future can't be predicted? What if you can't see the future by looking backwards? Why am I on the caboose of my life looking backwards when life is going by? Why am I looking backwards hoping my future is different when I could be looking forwards from the front like the train conductor should?"
You turn around and get to the front of the train and peer into the fog. You think, "This is a good train and it's on a good track. I will love this train and where it is on the track because it is all I know. Since this is all I know, I shall choose to love it. After all, what other choice is there?"
A "y" in the track comes into view. You choose the course using your best feelings and intelligence. Even though you still can't predict where the track will ultimately lead, you are happy with your decision. After all, you're still on the train you love and where it is on the track called “your life."