Many years ago I stepped on a train.
I very consciously, albeit impulsively, made the decision to do so. I have seldom known a personal decision that was not impulsive, but that’s not really the point. I got on this train and off it went, destination unknown, though I had plenty of ideas and dreams where I would have liked it to go. But dreams do not always a destination make.
For a long time the train moved this way and that, bobbing around corners, loping over hills, dipping, swaying, and all the time I sat content, happy just to be moving. Eventually, however, I noticed that the train was gathering speed. I had been carefree for too long. It would now take work and time to stop the train, two things I both dive into and shy away from depending on the day.
To quell my worries of the hastening ride, I would purchase a little something, a snack or a magazine, something to take my mind off the issue at hand. But though those purchases made my anxious journey momentarily more comfortable, they also increased my speed and lengthened the trip. Soon I was partaking in larger and larger escapes to satiate the fear of hurtling through the unknown, a nice dinner, a toy, a computer, a home, a career, all extending my stay, all accelerating the train. And all in desperate attempts to prove that I was merely a passenger, not the conductor, and therefore was not responsible, or perhaps had more control, over its destination. For if I were just a passenger, I would have a ticket that says precisely when enough is enough. Wouldn’t I?
The train is still moving now, only the determined momentum makes it almost impossible to enjoy the scenery. It’s loops and bobs are frequently swerving, lurching, and sudden drops, catching me off guard and sending me careening clumsily out of my seat. I struggle at times to see what I’ve done, to know that I was never just a passenger.
The thing is that I don’t want to necessarily disembark. I simply want to stop the train and step outside a moment. I want to look at the engine and the cars themselves from the outside. I want to dispose of the excess. I want to climb atop its funnel and see the end of the line, to know where its going. I don’t want to leave it, or for it to leave me. I just want to see it from new angles, and to view it as a whole. After all, it’s part of me.