A train has long appeared in my dreams as a representation of life’s journey. I see myself sitting on many different seats, looking at many different views, holding many different emotions. Sometimes I am not on the train, but at a crossing, waiting for it to pass by. Other times I am running for the platform, praying I don’t miss it or get on the wrong one. As a child, I feared the train moving off before I could jump off behind my mother, or get on behind her; other times I tried to reach the communication cord. Even worse, sometimes I was on the railway line, about to get run over by a fast approaching locomotive. Over the years trains have taken many different forms; old-fashioned steam trains, modern trains, morphing trains, trains full of white doves, trains rusted and heavily buried under woodland.
Trains carry perfectly the notion of an evolving consciousness and its many sights and experiences over the course of a human life. Taking it further, I can understand the train symbol as a reminder that everything is passing by in its own timeframe; thoughts, emotions, people and animals we love, daily experiences. Of course, some last much longer than others and some last for the duration of our own lifetime, for better or for worse, in accordance with our consciousness. But eventually everything slips away like images from the train window as we reach the final destination; there the journey as a human being, at least in this current form, will end.
That is no longer a depressing thought for me. In fact I find it comforting. It reminds me of the preciousness of this life and the beauty of the natural cycle. It is humbling indeed to realise that I will never see a certain person again as they existed in this life, or that this might be the last day I walk my dog. Life is a series of moments, like views out of a train window, each of them unique and precious and yet infinitely ungraspable – the more we try to cling onto a particular view, the faster it eludes us. Eventually we realise that it is futile because we are constantly moving, evolving, that is the nature of life.
For my dad, who loved trains so much. RIP.