DERAILED

derailed trainNo I’m not color blind
I know the world is black and white
Try to keep an open mind but…
I just can’t sleep on this tonight
Stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t
But honestly won’t someone stop this train

Don’t know how else to say it, don’t want to see my parents go
One generation’s length away
From fighting life out on my own

Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t but honestly won’t someone stop this train

So scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find away to say that life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man
Said help me understand
He said turn 68, you’ll renegotiate
Don’t stop this train
Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in
Don’t think I couldn’t ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we’ll never stop this train

See once in a while when it’s good
It’ll feel like it should
And they’re all still around
And you’re still safe and sound
And you don’t miss a thing
’til you cry when you’re driving away in the dark.

Singing stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take this speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t
Cause now I see I’ll never stop this train

 — John Mayer: “Stop This Train”

I am officially hating getting older. I am, more accurately, certain that I have hit a true midlife crisis.  Not the kind where you race out and buy a convertible or have a torrid affair with a partner half your age. The kind where you realize that at least half of your life is over (hopefully, just half) and you are nowhere near where you thought you might be at this point. The kind where you lament on the path not taken, the road not traveled, the opportunities not pursued, the experiences not enjoyed. It is the kind where you notice every single day that you lost time that you can never recover and you may have completely missed a shot at becoming something that you can now never be. Law school is officially out of the picture. That career in broadcasting never took off and certainly won’t now that I am aging and graying. It is moments like this that I want to stop this ride and get off. I’m done. This is not as fun as it looked while I was waiting in line to get on.

The saving grace in my life is my children. While I will never live vicariously through them, they allow me to feel hopeful for a new generation of opportunity. I see them as the unformed lumps of clay they are and hope to be able to encourage them to push hard for their dreams. I will encourage them to never settle and try to provide them with the ability to explore their horizons without fear. The tether that keeps us all connected to life gets shorter as we get older and, while it is still luxuriously lengthy, I want them to float weightlessly in outer space figuring out where their personal gravitational pull is taking them. Without force. Without burden. Without anxiety. I hope I can afford them that luxury. The one never afforded to me.

The train of my life has sped by so quickly. It moved so fast that I blinked and suddenly I was approaching 50 and realizing that my life looks nothing like I had imagined.  Sure, it is different and it is meaningful in ways but the person I had hoped to be was never realized and I am simply not certain that there is anything I can do about it at this point. I suppose this is the place where we learn to love and accept ourselves for who we are and appreciate what we have accomplished. It is this moment that I am supposed to value my courage and my honesty with myself and acknowledge my gratitude for each day that I wake up breathing in the possibilities that lay ahead. But, therein lies the rub, it feels like the possibilities have shrunk significantly. Suddenly, it feels more like narrow hallways and short runways.

Now, I must dig deeper to find meaning in new ways. It is time for acceptance that the train of my life may have derailed, racing too fast and taking a dangerous course that pushed me off the tracks. It is too late to try to stop and run backwards to have a do-over. This is it. This is my life. Sure, some days are better than others and the highs can be glorious and the lows can feel devastating. Nonetheless, it is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow when the realization sinks in that yes, this is it.  This is my life. It looks nothing like I dreamt it to be. It looks nothing like I wished it to be. It looks nothing like I wanted it to be. I can only wonder if it looks like what it is supposed to be.

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