I want to be a far off train whistle

“I know you go through life lightly.”

Her words were pleasing, but all I could think of was how absolutely heavy I still am, how very much lighter I could be. Her words also put me on guard because I know that the moment you become complacent, you expand and fill the free space around you until you are no longer free. It is so easy to slip, to forget, to accumulate. Soon your spirit is sedentary and trapped and immobile. Soon, all freedom of movement is gone. Soon it is all over.

I am afraid of things. I do not want them around. I know their power to pin me to the ground. I know that if I ever drop my guard, I will be trapped like so many others (and like I have been). I know that stuff is like kudzu: it works day and night spreading its tendrils, covering, wrapping, enveloping. When you wake up, it is a beautiful day outside – but it is too late. You cannot move.

A house is a trap. A closet of clothes is a trap. Anything in boxes held for a future time is a trap. All these things separate us from the present moment, confine us to the past or project us toward a future that is as inaccessible and illusory as the past. The only thing that lives is the here and now.

I grew up listening to train whistles. The tracks were several miles away, but the tell-tale sound of trains came to my window and crept in like the fog, luring and seducing.

I ramble onwards, stepping from stone to stone. Any extra burden, any extra, confusing thing that will throw me off balance must be removed from my pack.

We live by our weaknesses as much as by our strengths. Even as we seek to be stronger, we reveal exactly where we can be easily wounded. Lightness and kindness are, I believe, the only two things that can protect us.

The other day I read a quote, left for me to read, spray-painted on the side of a car. It said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

I will remember that. We are all fragile. We are all perishing even as we reach toward the light.

Tomorrow. Is a day. To be lighter.

2 responses to “I want to be a far off train whistle”

  1. Ines Ehrlich Avatar
    Ines Ehrlich

    Superb! You read my mind!

  2. Barbara Hontalas Avatar
    Barbara Hontalas

    This piece is lovely! A beautiful depiction of your growth spirt! You reveal such pathos for your fellow man. Such tender thoughts and profound wisdom! I like this very much. It will be one of my favorites.


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