Old Rusty Train

Mary Liz Ingram —  January 26, 2014 — Leave a comment
Speeding along, with rhythmic persistence, miles covered by churning wheels.
Barreling forward to each destination, no unplanned stops or slowing on the horizon.
Without forethought, the emergency brake is pulled, a screeching, steaming, crashing halt.
With a wheezing sigh, the train lies still.

Always moving, never resting, the time had come to stop. No phone, no work, no have-tos. I pulled the emergency brake on my full, ever-pursuing busy life.

As I approached my front door and weekend respite, I felt the embrace of a self-chosen hibernation. Once the door closed behind me, nothing or anything lay ahead. Quiet, rest, refueling was expected.

But that’s not how a train stops without warning.

More like a shaking, grinding, shuddering, momentum-stopping standstill.

Welcome to my Saturday morning: the aftermath of a much-needed break from everything.

I slept…I puttered…I slept…I puttered…I ate at my parents, then returned to climb in bed at 7:30pm. My head hurt all day, like being purged from the addiction of busyness.

Come Sunday, I felt clear. I felt calm, rested, connected in a real ways. Detoxified of stress, anxiety, pressure, burdens, I began to recover and reemerge with a more restful, more mindful perspective. A greater goodness crept into my tired should. My thoughts settled on family; I said “yes” more to my children. Half-formed thoughts stirred and stirred.

I followed the free string of my thoughts, now cleansed of distractions, and found myself thinking of our stories. My heritage, how I came to be here through my family. We seem to listen so late, wait so long before grasping the value in the stories of family. I decided it is time to listen more intently, to learn the stories in the lives of others. To understand the paths of my family that kept converging until mine began 32 years ago.

Like a magpie, I’ve collected treasures: symbols of the past, bits of history, connections to another time and place. I looked at a few of my favorite things and ended my weekend journey with a crock pot of taco soup and a dinner visit to my grandparents, where my children played dominoes with my Paw Paw and my baby sang “Wheels on the Bus” with my grandmother. It was  a night that unexpectedly glowed. A moment that would not exist if I hadn’t stopped and listened.

I found a different peacefulness from pulling the brake. It equipped me with a new grounding that helped me survive the tangled week to come…

At night, especially on these clear, cold January twilights, I hear a distant train whistle blow. Signaling approach, calling goodbyes, reminding us to pay attention. The train pushes on, going places in the darkness with light bright and pace steady, knowing when to stop, when to refuel and when to commence another journey.

Old Rusty Train, 8x10 pastel

Old Rusty Train, 8×10 pastel


Mary Liz Ingram


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