Things are as they are: Our reality is unique to each one of us as individuals. We are each an island; isolated and independent, complete and proud of our individualism. Yet, we desire to fall in step with a few others in our life’s journey, just to make it a pleasant shared experience.
And so we try to match steps, with varying success; apprehensive and uncertain of when an inadvertent misstep will mean that we go on alone.
This is now: I have this sense of standing at a platform watching a train speed away, not with a roar but with a subdued rush of air as it accelerates.
Like a camera shot zooming out fast as the train disappears, while I am left standing alone rooted to the same spot. And there is the feeling that someone who was meant to stay has chosen to leave and move on. There is nothing I can do to stop them. The air whooshes out of my lungs with the departing train. My head reels. I lose balance and feel that I am falling: vertigo and disequilibrium. Will the train head back to where I am? I wait in agonising uncertainty.
This is past: I look the other way and watch a young me, nervously looking at my watch, waiting to board a train, ready to begin a journey. The train arrives; this time with a clatter and screeches to a halt, wheels protesting at having to stop. I climb in, apprehensive. I am heading home; I have graduated from college. I turn to say goodbye to my friend as the train readies to pull away. There is no sound; just the rushing air. On the outside. In the train, I am still, not moving; it is the platform that is pulling away, zooming out, with my friend’s image dwindling rapidly. I think to myself that it is I who should be moving! Am I not the one leaving? I feel frozen in space and time; immobile. It’s the friend who left! I don’t understand how that works. Will the platform zoom back into view? Loss and fear. I wait, puzzled.
This is future: I look ahead. Expectation? My son is at the airport, hugging me. He is going away for higher studies. The plane soars, roaring in triumph, reaching for the sky. Boundaries broken, limits stretched, bonds loosening. My son moves out of my limiting embrace into the exciting, alluring unknown. He looks back, apprehensive, a little scared, but brave, smiling, eyes shining with expectation and hope. I smile back and blow him a kiss. I can feel my legs growing leaden, too heavy to move. I know the entire scene will pull away from me shortly, leaving me in a white haze that is familiarly quiet and isolated. It’s off; the image of the plane recedes from me. Too fast. Gone. I know this one will come back though. Every now and then. I wait, in anticipation. Glad for the certainty that exists only in the future.
And then, there is something I do know which neither troubles me with the questions ‘why’ or ‘when’, nor puzzles me. It is clear, final and inevitable. With death, it is certain that the one who leaves is not coming back.
This is one time that I shall not have to wait or agonise over returns. There is solace in the knowledge that waiting has an end and I shall follow when it is my time. Finally, it will be me moving someplace at last! It would be so good to feel forward motion.
And not wait.