Stay On the Train
The New Year always brings a hustle and bustle that can become overwhelming at times. Everyone is talking about new beginnings, new goals, getting focused or charting a new path. And, if you're anything like me, it's easy to get distracted by what others are doing or even worse, get distracted by what others are saying about you or the work you're doing. January is an important time to reflect, to regroup, to hone your skills and tweak plans, processes and yes, perceptions. What I want to encourage you to do is stay the course. You know what you need to do. The plans, goals and aspirations of others can encourage you to grow and be better, but don't let someone else's journey distract you from yours. I'd like to tell you a story that I reflect on quite often. It keeps me focused and I think it might help you, too.
Joe and I had the amazing opportunity to visit the home of our ancestors this past summer. One of our stops was in Kingham, England, a small hamlet about 2 hours outside of London when traveling by train. The train ride was amazing! The seats were cozy, the food was good and the people were friendly. As the countryside whizzed by, I was able to sit and relax while looking out the window at the green pastoral scene, complete with herds of fluffy white sheep and quaint farm houses. It was amazing to me that we could be travelling at greater than 100 miles an hour but inside the train, life was so peaceful.
When we got off at the station, a large white sign with a bold black background and white letters announced our arrival in Kingham. I stood their and marveled at it. There in front of me was my name and the name of my father, his father before him and so on and so on for generations upon generations. It was a welcome home banner of sorts and my smallness hit me like a sledgehammer. But even more present was a gratefulness for my family, where I've come from and what I've been through. I sat looking at this sign in awe as if it was a doorway and not a sign at all! The journey of my life had brought me to this point and I felt a true calm and my heart was at peace. I was grateful for all that my ancestors had done so that I could have the life I live today. I am truly blessed.
Then, suddenly, without warning, another train passed through at high speed. It was loud and noisy with its horn blaring. It stirred up clouds of dirt and dry, brittle leaves skittered across my feet. The wind that the passing train created almost blew me off balance. But then, just as quickly, it was gone - the silence had returned and with it, my sense of peace, purpose and gratefulness.
As we stood there watching the train pass out of sight, we took in this magical place and it dawned on me: we had just experienced a train's journey in two very different ways! The journey itself was no different - the train has a known destination. Its wheels are set firmly on the tracks. the conductor knows where it's going and where it has been. But my experience of the journey from inside the train had been very different from outside the train. From inside, it was calm and warm, comfortable and relaxed. Standing on the outside, it was noisy, disruptive, even scary! What a difference in experience!
What importance does this story hold for you? Well, it holds two lessons. The first is that we all have a journey and we need to stay on the train. From the outside, people may see us as travelling too fast. The train may be noisy to them; raucous and disruptive. But remember, the train has a destination and when you arrive there, you will fulfill your purpose and understand that the things that have happened in the past and the people you've met along the way were there in order to help get you where you're supposed to be and do the things you were destined to do!
The second lesson is this: don't let someone else's journey distract you or affect your peace of mind. When their train rushes by, stay focused! It's not your train. You have places to go. Go! You can do it! Ignore the noise. The dust will settle. You have important work to do.
My very best to you in this coming year! I hope your train takes you to new and exciting places!
This post is dedicated to Dr. Gyl Kasewurm, who has encouraged me and been a true friend. And to my husband, who tells the original Train Story. Ask him about it, he'll love to tell you the story....and show you the pictures.