There’s a train track roughly a kilometre from my new place. It’s close enough for it to be downright annoying. It was exactly that when I first got here. That was roughly three weeks ago. It has come to my realisation that the train doesn’t bother me anymore. I mean, it does get me riled up every time I hear that honking and rattling approaching from far away but when compared to how it was when I first got here, I think, I’ve stopped noticing the train approaching.
It’s funny because, during the last month of last year, I had a not so different experience from this one. However, it is only in hindsight and with my little encounter with the forever approaching train that I paid attention to it. During December, I was oddly overwhelmed. It got to the point that I had stopped noticing how great everything really was, and how beautiful the year had been. I realise now that it is all about what you choose to focus on.
When the train is approaching, and I’m doing something, I continue doing that thing. While the existence of the train is very much registered, I don’t focus on it. In fact, I completely block it. So, the train passes, and I never take account of it going wherever it is headed.
In December, while there were a couple of things that were utterly wrong, everything else was just perfect. It was pretty much the same as how it had been earlier during the year. Yet, for some reason, I only focused on those specific things, and so, the ever-present goodness (and I write that with the understanding that it is cringeworthily positive) was invisible to me.
It is not a lesson I’m learning for the first time which is precisely why it is essential to take note of it. I often comment that it is important to register the moments which make us feel true joy out loud and as blatantly as we can. Remembering and recollecting those moments help when it gets tougher, and eventually, it gets tougher. There is no escaping that.
I’ve learned that irrespective of what we’re doing or thinking and irrespective of what we think is going to happen, there is going to be that one moment where it doesn’t go like the plan we unwittingly make in our heads. That moment, I’ve learned, is where we lose our focus. There is a whole cycle of when things are about to go wrong that I’ve experienced enough times to know it exists.
First, you hear a faint siren. It is so soft, and it seems so far away that you barely take notice of it. You’re busy doing whatever you’re doing until you hear some clanking sound. You get distracted, but you continue doing what you’re doing. The sound gets louder, and so does the uneasiness. You can hear it approaching, but you’re not sure when it will pass. You know now that the train is coming, and so you start to unwind and lose focus. It is at this moment that you lose touch with the things you enjoy in your life for you can’t see them or hear them or feel them. All you can see is the image of the train approaching in your head; all you can hear is the siren and the clanking getting louder with every millisecond, and all you can feel is your heart beating fast from anxiety. Then, the train passes. It is loud. It is annoying. All that anticipation builds up to this moment.
You don’t remember what you were doing, and neither do you care. All you care about is how aggravating this situation is, and all you can think about is the train. Then, for a second, it feels like the train and its annoyance is here to stay. You start to feel like this is your reality, and that whatever you were doing is halted forever because the focus you lost shall never be gained. Suddenly, the train passes, and the sounds get softer and softer until they disappear. You stare blankly at whatever you were doing at the moment, and for a second you are dazed, and just can’t get back to how it was before you first felt the train approaching. The thing you realise later is that the train will always pass, and it will never stay, and that is why you will once again gain your focus, and that is why you will once again do whatever it is that you were doing.
The key, I’ve learned, is always to remember that the train, no matter how deafening it is, and no matter how painful that one second worth of life feels, shall pass. That is how it has always been. The key is always to remember, that the train is going to pass and whether you choose to pause whatever it is that you’re doing, and whether you choose to let the train take your attention is up to you.
Or, you could always put some loud music on as you groove to it while doing whatever it is you are doing. The important thing is to remember, that the train is never here to stay; the train shall pass.