Take Me Right Back To The Track

When I was a kid I used to walk by train tracks a lot. I like trains. There is something solid and dependable about them. And they always know where they’re going.

As I walked by the tracks I used to pretend I was a character in a book – someone like Huck Finn walking along with my bundle of belongings tied to a stick, chewing straw and whistling even though I had holes in my shoes.

I liked the sense of adventure that was cast into the air by the tracks. The sense of the absolute vastness of the world out there, much wider than my little legs would have been capable of travelling.

I began to love trains because of my grandfather. He lived near the line that ran all the way from Glasgow to Edinburgh. When I had sleepovers I was soothed to sleep by the train trundling north, counting how long it took for the ch-chung ch-chung of the carriages to disappear out of earshot.

My grandfather marked his days by the train timetables. He always had his breakfast at the same time so he could watch the 7.18 on its way to Castlecary. It sounded its whistle just as his boiled egg bubbled in the pot.

In the evening he had a whisky as the 6.02 came down from Falkirk. Regular as clockwork, he would say as he raised his glass.

Have you ever thought that everyday events, commonplace things can provide the key to the meaning of existence?

Train tracks are synonymous with focus and direction for me.

Even when the track is forked, one shift of the lever indicates the right track to take.

At this time of year there are a lot of choices. A mental and physical unwinding that throws up many forks in the road.

Will we go down the familiar road and go on as before?

Or will we shift the lever out of the embrace of the familiar and plunge into something new?

It seems that the choices that arise as a new year beckons are very much like a train reaching a fork in the track.

I think of that child walking by the tracks, head full of wonder, enchanted by the eloquence of the railway line, not considering that any track could be the wrong one,  knowing that any track followed will take her to where she needs to be.

Knowing that there is no reason tomorrow cannot be as good as today.

And I am suddenly ready to face the new year.

Image by Andrea Reyes at DeviantART.
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11 thoughts on “Take Me Right Back To The Track

  1. And they always know where they’re going.- Isn’t this just so nice? Makes you wish we came complete with tracks but then I know me- I’d have long jumped them! 🙂
    Love your grandfather setting his life to the train’s schedule.
    Why can’t we hope that tomorrow is even better than today? Let’s Selma!

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  2. What a wonderful story……… I can see your grandfather sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast waiting for the sound of the train.

    I too love trains…….sadly I rarely hear them anymore. Most of the tracks around here have been turned into a Trans Canada walking trail. The old train bridge is for pedestrians now, but what it has done is connected the two sides of the city and allows for more interaction.

    The memory I have of my childhood is the foghorn. I grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario. The foghorn was a frequent sound for the large ships coming into port. Though many find the sound eerie and lonely, I always equate the sound to feeling safely tucked in my bed on early mornings.

    May we always have the courage to follow the tracks less travelled……… Happy New Year Selma.

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  3. I love the sound and look of trains. I used to travel to Melbourne on an overnighter when I was little (before starting school) and just loved the sound – guaranteed to send you to sleep. I think it is rare that you can make a wrong decision – there are just different paths, each with pros and cons and each an adventure. Have a good New Year!

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  4. I think I will be taking a leap of faith every once in a while Sel, just to see where it takes me. I’ve been on the safe track for far too long. Sometimes it’s fun to NOT know where you are going.

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  5. Beautiful post!
    I am going to switch the gear on my train and propel into self-reality-checks and trying to be a better person…
    Happy New Year!

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  6. Interesting, because I just read an article by a former train driver, who said he found driving the train prohibitive and restrictive. All he really had control over was the speed of the train … the actual route was dictated by signalmen and controllers outside the train, and he couldn’t change it even if he wanted to.

    But, since this is a ‘train of thought’ … surely, you’re allowed to jump down, run ahead and switch the points as you wish?

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  7. LIBBY:
    Being ready is the difficult part. It can take a while (as in my case), but eventually you are ready to plunge in!

    LAURI:
    There is absolutely no reason in the world that tomorrow shouldn’t be as good as today. If not better. That’s how I’m going to tackle 2010!

    LAURI:
    Oh, me too. I have always wanted to travel on the Orient Express or those glass topped trains that go through Canada. How amazing would that be?

    DANA:
    I love that story of the foghorn. I see how it would be comforting and reliable as well. It is sad you no longer hear the trains, but a walking trail is fantastic. I really like the sound of that!

    GABRIELLE:
    I have enjoyed many an overnight trip on a train – often through the UK, but also in Australia. In the late 70s we all went up to Cairns by train. I think we had to change at Brisbane. I remember seeing a significant difference in flora and fauna once we crossed the NSW border. Have a brilliant New Year!

    GYPSY:
    I just don’t want to be afraid to try new things anymore. I am a bit of a chicken sometimes and like to stay in my comfort zone. It’s time to throw away the comfy cushion and slippers!

    MELEAH:
    I think there are little clues to what life is all about all over the place. Sometimes we just miss them. I’m going to try to keep my eyes open a bit more this year!

    BRE:
    Oh, me too, although I must say I think you are a pretty good person already, but I know what you mean – it is always a good thing to try and be better!

    TRAVELRAT:
    Isn’t that interesting. Perhaps the trains can only be enjoyed by the passengers and the trainspotters. Maybe driving them is a drag. But hey, they should be able to switch the points if they wish. Why not?

    Wishing you and your family a lovely New Year!

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