A Train's Journey

Ecrire pour moi est une activité spirituelle du plus haut degré. L'écriture me donne accès à un monde inaccessible par tout autre moyen, un monde peuplé de Vérités éternelles, de Questions ... [+]

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I live in a train. I have food, warmth, a place to sleep.

I feel certain that I am its sole occupant, for if there were anyone else on it I would know by now, as I have lived in this train my entire life.

Train carries me, I know not where. Not only do I not know its destination, I am also ignorant as to what route it is taking to reach the terminus or if, indeed, there is a final point to its journey. On occasions, it stops entirely or even begins to move backwards, but I can never get off for all the exits are tightly sealed.

I can only perceive the external world as it appears through the windows of the train. I know not how veracious my perceptions are, for it may well be that the windows are made of distorting glass. I often wonder what it would be like to experience life directly.

In earlier times I would contemplate whether it is possible to survive outside the train, at least temporarily, or if it is indeed possible to live one's life entirely apart from it, and if so, whether life in the outer world would actually be better. I cherished the hope that the train contains something that would help me escape it, this unwieldy metal hulk, and separate my existence from its course. I searched exhaustively for a button that would throw open all the doors simultaneously or a lever that would allow me to prise open a window. Yet I dared not go through every carriage and compartment, partly out of fear that I would find nothing of use and that all of my hopes would thereby be terminally dashed.

Occasionally, I see other trains go nearby and catch a glimpse of their solitary dwellers. My train might run parallel to theirs for a short distance but then the tracks diverge and I never see them again. There may be time enough to wave or shout out a few quick words, but the words get mangled by the noise of wheels on the tracks.

Once, and oh how the memory of that event heartens me still, my train travelled close to another, with a young woman occupant, for a considerable period of time—maybe as long as two minutes. I put my palms upon the window and spread my fingers and the girl did the same in her carriage. Our hands were perfectly aligned and, despite the glass between us, I was sure I could feel the warmth of her body.

I can not jettison my dream that I will see her again, that our trains will run side by side forever and we will never be apart. In every train that I see, I continue to search out for her sublime features, yet at the same time I am wracked by doubts as to how I appeared to her, whether the windows of her train distorted her vision of me.

Who is driving my train? Does it have a driver at all? Is there any purpose to its voyage? Is it moving of its own volition and choosing its own way through the land or has its journey been pre-planned by some unknown hand? Do I have any control or influence over its route, over its destination point? Is there a Master Scheduler who organised the timetables and the routes of every train? Shall I direct my prayers to him to allow me to see that girl again?

These are the questions, the answers to which I am still searching.
With time, I grow to accept having one's existence tied up with the train. I yearn less and less to experience the external world; to know what the air tastes like, what the colours look like out there. The desire to leave the train now appears to be no less preposterous and unnatural than the idea of a foetus trying to make its way through the world, a walking miscarriage. Life outside would be so precarious and haphazard, without protection from the elements and other vagaries of fate. The train provides me with a solid cover, carries me forward, gives direction to my existence.

There may be things in the unexplored compartments that might make my journey more meaningful and fulfilling, things that might allow me to grow as a person. For all I know tools and treasures, placed there especially for me, might be awaiting my discovery.

But lulled by the rhythm of the train upon the tracks, I remain in my seat for hours, days, weeks, years on end. I look out of the window and watch the world go by, not moving, indeed being afraid to move, so accustomed have I become to seeing things from this vantage point. Sometimes I imagine that I can influence the train's course and destination just by wishing for it hard enough.

Once, all of a sudden, the doors of my carriage swung wide open of their own accord. I stood before the unsealed doors, frightened and unsure as to what to do. With great trepidation I extended my hand towards the fresh air but jerked it back just before it crossed the threshold between the train and the outer world, the way one instinctively pulls one's hand away from an open flame. I hurriedly proceeded to draw the doors shut as tightly as I could, for they most likely unlocked due to a malfunction in the train's machinery, then went back to my seat.

Lately, I've been seeing vaguely familiar landscapes. Is the train taking me to the place from which it commenced its voyage and will my journey then be over? Will there be someone waiting for me when the train pulls into its last station, someone who knows where and when my train will make its final stop? Perhaps it will be the Master Scheduler himself and he will then explain to me the purpose of my voyage and why my journey took this particular route.

I live in a train. Although I have food, warmth, a place to sleep, sometimes a feeling comes over me that I have nothing at all, but I quickly push it away.