My wife and I recently relocated. And as I deal with all the minutiae that moving entails, I find myself reflecting on the meaning of what it means to move.
I realized that I have always been moving. Occasionally, the move is physical. But more often the move is emotional or mental. Life moves on.
It reminds me of a story by the essayist Loren Eiseley that I re-discovered recently. He was on a train late one night and noticed a gaunt man sleeping in a nearby seat, holding a paper bag. Thinking that the man was homeless, he watched with interest as the conductor entered the car yelling, “Tickets!” The man stirred and opened his eyes. Slowly he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money.
Perhaps surprised by the turn of events, Loren Eiseley then overheard the unlikely words spoken by the man:
“Give me,” he said then, … “give me a ticket to wherever it is.”
Whether the man knew or not, his words were profound. And although Mr. Eiseley’s point may have been a bit different than mine, each will find their own meaning in this (or any) story. And so I’d like to suggest the following:
We each find ourselves on a train that we call life. We don’t know the destination. We don’t even know if there is a destination, or when we might arrive.
It’s all a mystery — a mystery that we all experience. Our individual routes may diverge, or cross, or even run parallel. But try as we might to lay our own tracks, other forces will conspire and interfere to redirect our route.
Nonetheless we will each discover a unique set of rails being laid out in front of us, travelling through both wondrous and fearsome places.
Take your ticket — it’s time to move on. We may not know the details of the future, but you — like me — are heading out to “wherever it is.” As for me, at this moment I am enjoying the view. Maybe I’ll see you at the next station.