Thursday, 5 February 2009

Train of Thought


Replying to emails from friends the last few weeks I’ve been noticing that many people I know are facing this new year in a state of restlessness. They’re all looking for which is the right train to board, the one that will take them towards the brightest happiest future. One way or another, they are all searching for way signs - those glowing arrows pointing at the train schedule saying…

The only problem with constantly looking for signs is that if you’re tired and worn out by stress you often can’t see clearly enough to recognise a real sign, even if it’s ten foot tall and covered in flashing lights! Then there’s the problems of doubt, those people who sit there undecided thinking, “Is that really a sign? Is this truly the best train? Should I wait for the next train rather?” …so they sit and wait for the perfect timing.

They wait.... and wait... then years/days/weeks later they realise that they were so busy waiting for the sign saying...
...that they never get to leave the station! I have, in the past, suffered from that problem. Sometimes I’ve so feared making the wrong decision that I’ve sat frozen in my seat while one train after another arrives… and departs… without me.

I have come to realise that sometimes you need to stop waiting for the perfect moment, perfect timing, perfect train. My husband (an Aries who leaps off the mountain in complete trust) helped me realise a few things. His advice is - just do it, just get on the train. If it's the wrong train, you get off at the next station and catch another one, because even if it does turn out to be the wrong train you never lose. Every journey has lessons you can take and grow from, every train takes you to a new destination full of new adventures and possibilities. Every train stops at a station where there will be other trains. Or, to use his own words…

“There are no wrong decisions, only different lessons.”

That’s why I now have a book instead of a 15 year old manuscript still sitting in a box. Is the book perfect? No. Is it going to be a success or a flop? I don’t know, but one thing I am sure of is that I’d have never found out if I hadn’t run after that publishing-offer train.

My advice to anyone sitting on the station worrying which train is right for them would be to catch it and see where it takes you. Maybe you'll stay... maybe you'll move on... maybe you'll catch another completely unexpected train. Don't worry about it too much or you'll lose the wonder of today worrying about a train trip whose ticket hasn't even been booked yet.

You will grow and learn and experience life. You’ll meet lousy people, great people, you’ll get to experience a whole range of emotions and definitely make friends amongst the other travellers taking the same route. Think about it – What will you have experienced if you stay on the platform and never step onto a train? How much richer is your life for the journeys and trains you have taken so far, how much richer are you within yourself? Nothing is a waste unless we chose to make it so.



  1. Excellent and wise thoughts. I've always been from the "if it's not the right train, but it's close, hop on and make it the right train" school. Did forget it for a time, but it's really true. I'm with you - why spend your whole life waiting for the "perfect train" that might never come. Get moving, see places, live life, do things. You can always change trains!

  2. Thank you for the reminder. It's so easy to get bogged down with timetables and miss the trip,itself. I'd rather move on to the next experience and see what new directions it takes me. Lately, however, I'd forgotten the joy of it all. Thanks again for nudging me back on track.

  3. Thanks Pete

    I forget it myself now and then. It's something we all need to be reminded of, I think. I like your summation.

    Hi Kerry
    You're welcome. I owe my thanks to a young friend who sparked this topic for me by writing about his own dilemma of being at a point in his life where there are TWO trains before him at the station.

    Very well said about the daily stuff bogging us down. That's my problem at the moment, I'm so busy worrying about the next station, time tables, ticket prices that I'm forgetting to enjoy the journey!

  4. Very well written post, Michelle. I've always tried to remind myself when I am putting off making a decision about something that even not deciding or making a choice about what to do becomes a decision.

  5. Interesting parleys you have drawn Michelle, finding a perfect train is like expecting the tracks to meet at a point which in some ways appears to - only in the Horizon!

  6. Thank you Daisy
    Very true that even deciding not to act is still a decision. Something also worth being reminded of.

    Hi Vasant
    I laughed at that! :-D Good point about the dangers of spending too much time staring too far ahead - at the horizon.

  7. wonderful post michelle

    this modern world is full of so called perfection

    love the photo


  8. Thanks Andy :-)

    Yep, way too much "hype" about perfection in the moder world, that and the other dreadful "p" word... Progress.

  9. Thank you Michelle - a very wise and inspiring post!! A great reminder too.

  10. PS: In fact this post gets my vote of best post of the year (so far) :-). I agree wholeheartedly with the message. Rather get on the train than not. You can always get off. It's all gained experience at the end of the day. Some trains will take you all the way to your destination/s (and destiny).

  11. Jacques

    I missed this somehow! Gosh... :-) You made my day. Thanks.

  12. BEAUTIFUL reminder, M! THANK YOU!!! I've always been afraid of going "out of my safety zone" until I moved to Finland. I still feel that it was the biggest risk I've ever taken in my life.

    Right now there are some flickers of fear looming ahead of me since I don't know yet what I want to do in terms of occupation...sometimes I think I may be waiting for something which I'm not sure will ever come or not (in terms of occupation)...there are things you can't force where you just have to wait to see if it's going to happen or not (such as trying to have a baby)...but I'm going to remember this post of yours to make my life more balanced. :-))))

  13. Thanks Amel

    I loved what you said here:
    "there are things you can't force where you just have to wait to see if it's going to happen or not"

    Very true! I think the thing is realising the difference between needing to wait and using waiting as an excuse not to live. I doubt you'd make that mistake, you come across as a very good balance of knowing when to be patient and when to grab the next train. ;-)