Racing the Train

Five weeks until my departure date, and the anxiety has really started to catch up with me. Not to say it wasn’t there all along… the few months after booking my flight were some of the worst. There were panic attacks left and right, and doubts flooded my every thought. I asked myself over and over if I was making the right decision. I’m leaving all I have ever known, and I’m doing it all by myself. Eventually I decided to push the impending reality to the back of my mind.  Avoid thinking about it, and avoid the worry. For a while it worked. But now it seems I can’t avoid the truth any longer. I leave in 5 weeks. That is 35 days. I thought I would feel more prepared by now. Instead, I’m a mess.

This shouldn’t be mistaken for cold feet. I do not feel discouraged. I am enthusiastic and fearful all at once. I have too many dreams and too strong a passion to let my fears hold me back. But I have to admit, the angst is almost overpowering. Being alone is not my strong suit, especially not for long durations of time, with nobody there to guide me through the diverse landscape and unfamiliar territory… with no definite plan or idea for how things might turn out. The panic is very real.

But a funny thing happened yesterday.

Along the drive to my parents’ house, I got to race the train along the stretch of highway between Taylor and Rockdale. Ahead of me was the moon. It was pale white against a bright blue sky, barely peeking through the atmosphere and waiting for dusk. Autumn was also in the midst of its opening act, as the trees lining the highway faded back and forth between bright green and muted orange. I hardly noticed the few cars that shared the road with me. In my mind it was just me and the train, side by side, heading east. For those few minutes I felt no anxiety or fear about my future, only hope and gratitude. Racing that train felt like freedom. I wondered where it came from, where it was headed, and what it was carrying. I admired the colorful graffiti drawn on the boxcars. Each piece spoke its own story about the person that drew it. I thought about how great it would feel to be sitting on top of the train, riding through the Texas hill country with a front row seat and the wind in my face. I continued to think these thoughts until I was ahead, and the train was far behind… nothing but a footnote in my rear-view mirror.

Rehashing what I felt in those moments, I can’t help but view it symbolically.

I may not know where I’m going, but I know I will get there. What is ahead may not seem bright right now, but it will become brighter with time. The world around me will change. But it will still be beautiful, even more beautiful than it was before. Sites will be seen, friends will be made, stories will be heard. I will allow my encounters to mold me. I’m just a vesicle waiting to be filled. And one day, just as the train, I will arrive at some far-flung or next-door destination, knowing full well that it was never really about the destination to begin with.

These are the thoughts that pick me back up each time my spirit wavers.

Fear of the unknown is the worst type of fear, and I guess this is my way of saying I’ve had enough of it. In the deepest part of my heart, I don’t feel scared. I have a passion that I believe in, and an inner compass that guides me. That’s all I really need. With that, this is going to be a grand adventure.

Photo credit: Tom Williamson

2 thoughts on “Racing the Train

  1. Mom

    That was very well written. I had no idea you were afraid or scared. You never showed that to me. But I agree with your rationale. The trip will allow you to grow into the woman you want to be. I am proud of you now, as I have always been. Love you so much — MOM


    1. Thanks mom 🙂 I tried not to show how scared I was. In my mind that means I’m letting it win. Besides, anxiety makes you think everything is much larger of a threat than it actually is. Love you!!


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