While on assignment yesterday, I drove towards an intersection that happened to pass over some train tracks.
A couple cars behind the tracks, I quickly sped up once the light turned green. But almost as soon as the signal turned green, I slammed on my breaks when it suddenly turned red. Unfortunately for me, I was stopped right over the Metrolink rails.
I’ve written and referred to enough news stories pertaining to rail safety, thus my mind immediately went to images of time-pressed drivers disregarding/pummeling through the crossing gates that come down when a train is approaching, as well as the small handful of people who’ve parked their cars on the tracks in suicide attempts.
I fell into neither one of the above categories and thought it somewhat unfair that I might meet the same fate as those other drivers (although I knew it would be rather unlikely that that would be the moment a train would decide to pass through whilst I was in its path).
Once the light did turn green again, I relaxed my grip on the wheel and proceeded to my destination.
Still, it’s a bit unnerving to know that if I had been fated to a head-on collision, there would’ve been nothing I could do about it unless I acted quickly—I couldn’t move forward or backward with the other cars blocking me in from both directions. I supposed I could’ve done a Mission Impossible-type tuck and roll out of my car, but depending on how panicky I might’ve been, that idea might not have occurred to me.
I didn’t really dwell on this minor ordeal until later in the day. In that fleeting moment that I thought I was helpless, I also realized that there was an almost disturbing sort of comfort in knowing that there will be things in life I can’t change (but hopefully one of those things isn’t being stalled on the railroad tracks).
This summer, I’ve suddenly had to contend with a number of stresses which, if they had been distributed a little more evenly instead of all at once, I would probably be much better at juggling them. Sadly I don’t get to pick and choose, and most of them I have no control over.
The rational side of me realizes that these are things I simply can’t change no matter what I do, but most of the time, I’m restless—much as I would be while trapped in car about to be destroyed by a locomotive.
And perhaps the occasionally less-than-motivated side of myself (because we all have one) is secretly relieved that I nothing I can do will make these things go my way. It sucks obviously, but it’s kind of like taking a final exam and knowing (hopefully) you’ve done everything you can; the result is determined by a higher authority.
As I watch friends and other loved ones transition into new seasons of life, I’m simultaneously happy and anxious, as I’m left to wonder when it’ll come my time to move on as well. For now, however, I must be content with the now, because now is where I’m supposed to be. When it’s not, I’ll be ready to run.
As I turn the page of my calendar with the dawn of each new month, I know I can’t stop time, either. We’re all aging every second and the fact that each of us will run out of seconds is inevitable. As hard as it is to cope knowing there are people in our lives who are closer to running out, I know it’s simply a part of life.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also come to realize that there are people who walk into our lives but exit almost as quickly as they entered. I’ve heard it said that while we might’ve expected them to stay around for a longer time, their presence—or better yet—their unexpected absence, plays some role in our life journeys. I can’t say for certain I know the reason for these sudden exits right now, but perhaps I will soon.
And as I’ve gotten around more, I know, I know, I KNOW I can never control how I’m seen, although it’s a hard concept to swallow. For the most part, only I will know what sort of person I am, and where I can’t see the good, maybe someone else will.