Question 138 of 365: When are we trains?

Question 138 of 365: When are we trains?

Metra UP-NW outbound train 643
Image by thomas.merton via Flickr

Look at me, I’m a train on a track
I’m a train, I’m a train, I’m a chucka train, yeah
Look at me, got a load on my back
I’m a train, I’m a train, I’m a chucka train, yeah

Look at me, I’m going somewhere
I’m a train, I’m a train, I’m a chucka train, yeah
Look at me, I’m going somewhere
I’m a train, I’m a train, I’m a chucka train, yeah

Been a hard day, yes, it has been a hard day
Yes, it has been a hard day, yes, it has
I’m a train, I’m a chucka train, I’m a chucka train
I’m a train, I’m a chucka train, chucka train, yeah

I sang this song in an acapella group. It was originally done by Albert Hammond, but we sang the King Singers version. It was kind of silly and a little repetitive for my tastes, but the beat and the harmonies were infectious. I find myself still humming it on occasion without any provocation.

I just don’t think I ever understood it before, not really anyway.

There is a single track, a single load, a single day or life and all of it just seems to be heading in this forward direction. We are moving faster than we can even fathom. We are harmonizing with the tones of the rails. We are choosing to have the hard days because we choose to move at all. So long as there is friction between our wheels and the steel beneath us.

And sometimes th simple mantra presented by this song is enough to let me know that we are all trains. It is enough to show me just how discordant everything can be from time to time, and how it always resolves in the last stanza. Not that there wasn’t hardship along the way, but the vocal chords come to rest and there is just the gentle hum of the train.

So I’m a train, I’m a train, I’m a chukka chukka train.

I have set so much up for my family, my business, my carreer and everything else that it hardly seems that there is anything that I can do to change direction. I make the gentle nudge, but that is just shifting focus really, nothing is really changing.

I guess I am trying to not derail us, and I’ve been pretty successful so far. I haven’t caused any major bankruptcies or caused any fatalities, which is pretty nice. I haven’t gotten too lost or been made obsolete by some brand new model. I feel like what I haul is worth hauling, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

But I sometimes want to stop being a train. Sometimes I would like to be able to be a car or an airplane with fewer limitations on direction and maintinence. Sometimes I want to unload and see what it is like in one of the many stops I have made along the way. But I blow the whistle and I move forward like all of the other trains.

The biggest thing about trains is that there are no shortcuts. You have to run the full route. You have to consume all of the fuel.

So maybe this is all a bit vague, but the refrain in my head is louder than ever. These words are all that makes sense to me right now. I do not mourn this fact, but rather understand that it will be my lot so long as I want the ability to carry all of the things that love and need with me everywhere I go. No other form of transportation can be a freight conveyance, comfortable passenger transport, and long distance transit system. For that, I love being a train.

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  1. eclepic

    I am an airplane – less freight, more passengers…while we seem more free, the tracks are just invisible ;c) “It's hard to be a human being. It's harder as anything else.” Groundlings we, have no chance to be, all the living we conceive. This is why parenting, teaching, influencing is such a good gift to those of us who create a multitude of un-lived lives – we can offer them to those scrounging around in search of a vision (having only grown up with trains or planes or automobiles). It's also why I so love friends – because I can fly in and visit with your train life…and you can hear the life and times of your more flighty friend ;c)

  2. jacquelinecahill

    Wow! This is an INCREDIBLY powerful post. I have enough thoughts running through my head just in response to it that I could probably write a book. So, I'll just go with the main ideas. I listened to both versions of the train song…I can see how it would seem boring if you didn't see all the meaning that was behind it (or could've been meant to be behind it). I think the underlying issue is that we have to choose what we are…car, plane, train etc…we can change but that means major upheaval of our lives. That is me…I feel glued to a track and I leave the machine. No thank you. Now I hear you “I guess I am trying to not derail us, and I’ve been pretty successful so far. I haven’t caused any major bankruptcies or caused any fatalities, which is pretty nice.” Just remember there is a lot of middle ground too.

    For me, I've had to be a train the last few years…because I was dealt some challenging cards that I didn't have control over. I was the best train I could be even though I'm sure at times my vision was clouded with my other dreams as I continually went from point A to B and then B to A. I'm not wired to be a train though…I can be at times of need for temporary times…but then I must move on or my train will break down. So, I'm about to retire my train and move into a car…a car that is intended for the necessity of basic transportation and the freedom of fun roadtrips…someday I hope to be only a leisure car or plane…go where I want when I want to do what I want…for now I am extremely grateful that I can soon move from my train to my semi-freedom car.

  3. I am so glad that you listened to the songs. I think they really do
    have a lot to do with what I was referring to the post. At least, I
    hope they did. I can read too much into things, sometimes.

    I'm glad you are finding ways to be a semi-freedom car. I may get
    there, but as we discussed today, I have made choices that affect a
    lot more than me and sometimes that means that I can't go anywhere and
    do anything. The view is pretty incredible sometimes, though, on the
    mountain passes and the late nights. The train is okay, most days.

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