For most of my life I've been a ticket-holder on a passenger train to heaven.
The whole trip was planned for me with an itinerary for pretty much every moment of my existence. I didn't have to do anything except sit back, enjoy the ride, and follow the set schedule. I didn't have to decide what to eat or drink, where to sit or how to think. The holy train attendents and the heavenly train conductor would do all that for me--as directed by the mighty train god in his watch tower on the hill, of course. Unfortunately this train never stops. It just keeps moving on eternally, and there's no space to stretch your legs, no fresh air to breathe. It just moves along, and occasionally the holy train attendents throw out life saver rings for the downtrodden to grab onto and pull themselves onboard. Lots of people make the effort to climb aboard this moving train because it's en route to heaven, to happiness, to celestial glory, and nothing can get in the way.
One day I looked out the window (one of the few that was a REAL window and not a piece of flowery stained glass with a fluorescent light behind it) and I saw something bigger than this whole train ride thing. Maybe it was a flower or a stream of water or simply a tatooed man with dreads in his hair and a smile on his face. Maybe it was a tree or the moon or a muddy kid who couldn't care less about a train to heaven. Whatever it was, I realized that I could choose something else. I didn't have to sit passively on the train saying prayers to an invisible man, reading poetry about wars and do-gooders who chop people's arms off. I didn't have to believe that heaven was my destination, my goal, and my purpose in this life journey. I realized that I'm my own creator. I'm imaginative enough to make up my own beliefs, and strong enough to walk my own path.
I thought about jumping more times than anybody knows about.
Standing on the edge with the door open, wind flying past just daring me to take flight.
People off the train yelled to me--encouraged me to take the leap, to trust my instincts.
Everyone on the train with me said, stay. Stay, stay, stay. This is happiness. Maybe not right now, but that's where we'll be--someday.
I loved the people on that train. I didn't want to disappoint them. Didn't want to lose them. Didn't want to go a separate way.
But every time I caught a glimpse out the window at the possibilities I could explore I began to feel this thing I'd never felt before. I began to love myself. My mind. My spirit. My body. My soul. And I knew I couldn't stay. Even if I had to sacrifice the cushioned seats to paradise for a muddy road along the river, it was time to jump.
So, I took the leap into the unknown. Where I now have to create my life from scratch. I have to write my own story. Good thing I have a journal and a pen.
Just because I'm starting over doesn't mean I can erase the past. I still have all my journals (which add up to A LOT), and I have my memories. I don't love anyone any less. I don't respect anyone any less for living their own lives--for riding the train or playing in the mud or picking flowers by the river. I just need to choose my own way, and my own way doesn't involve any "destination: heaven trains" (although it does include a lot of terrible metaphors).
Now, before I get too anxious about hitting the publish post button, I have to say that jumping was the hardest thing I've ever done. And that I did not hit the ground running and just saunter along on my merry way. It's more like I snagged my jacket and got dragged along on the rocky railroad side for a few days until I realized I had to give up my jacket too. Then I landed in a canyon of muck where the reality of "I get to choose for myself" really set in. Here in Mucky Canyon there's no one telling me where to go, who to be, or how to get myself cleaned up. Here, there are no answers, and that's scary sometimes. But, as I stretch out my legs and breathe in some fresh air, it doesn't matter that there are no answers. I'm finally living for myself. And I love it.
Life is a journey.
Journey is a band.
Caught between confusion and pain
Promises we make were in vain"
"Some day love will find you
break those chains that bind you..."
"True love won't desert you..."