This morning, yesterday, and the day before that I woke up at 3:15am and couldn’t get back to sleep. My head was full of things to do, anxiety about some upcoming events, and Thanksgiving. None of these usually cause stress for me, but at 3:15am they bombarded my poor half-asleep brain. While I was lying there trying not to hyperventilate, petting the cat who was lying on my head with one paw over my cheek, I heard a train.
When my children were babies, they would, as babies do, wake up in the middle of the night. I would sit and rock them, feeling sorry for myself for having to get up again. Most mothers are sleep deprived, and I was not exactly the picture of the accepting, peaceful mother, swooping her baby up with a small, understanding smile on her face, with a glow to her cheeks as if to say, “It’s all well, little one, mama is here.” I was a grumpy diva. Think Ursula in the Little Mermaid and you get the gist. Anyway, I’d sit there, rocking, feeling like I was the only person who was awake in the entire world and how unfair it was, and I’d hear a train. The sound of the train in the distance was a beacon. It calmed me. It told me that someone else is awake and working. Someone else understands what it’s like to be up when others sleep. I wasn’t alone. After the train faded into the distance, there was peace for about 15 minutes, until the next one.
So at 3:15am, since I couldn’t sleep anyway, I thought about trains. And I thought about them some more while walking Chester. In the book Divergent, one of the groups travels by jumping on and off trains. We all do that…we jump on a train and get off at stops along the way. Some stops are happy, some are sad, all are experiences. We take our time at some—maybe lifetimes. But none of them last forever. We then jump back on the train when it’s right. If we miss a train or two, no matter, another one will be by. We never forget our stops or the people we meet along the way, but everything has its time, and after that time, we have to board. We may find a time of peace while just moving on the train, but when a stop presents itself, eventually we have to jump off.
John F. Kennedy said “History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be left behind.” We have a past and we have a future. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time because I really loved some of the stops and would like to visit there again. I can visit in photos and memories, but there is only one thing we can’t do on a train–go backward. Our trains just don’t run that way.
This Thursday is Thanksgiving for Americans. I am thankful for the train stops in my life that have made me who I am. I am really excited about some stops coming up. I am thankful for you. Like the train whistle, you reading this shows me I am not alone. We are a community. I’ll see you at 3:15am on the next train. Happy Thanksgiving!