Request a flower mandala screensaver
Recently, the song “Another Train,” by British balladeer Pete Morton, has been going through my head repeatedly, particularly the chorus:
“There’s another train, there always is. Maybe the next one is yours, step up and climb aboard… another train.”
I’ve always liked this song — its optimism about not only second chances, but third and fourth and fifth… a sequence of chances to get on another train if you’ve missed the one you thought you needed. The song seemed prophetic when I heard it on the radio the morning I was scheduled to see a client who had lost many things — his business, his health, his savings, many of his important relationships. I’d been working with him to find a new direction, and, through a variant of the “miracle question” exercise we’re using in the “Cultivating Creativity” group, we’d discovered that his internal flywheel, the thing that kept him going when the going was tough, was reading train magazines. Though it was probably a year before he’d even mentioned trains to me, he knew more about railroads than any person I can imagine who was not a historian of the subject. He’d been fascinated by them since boyhood and had never let up in his studies. His “next train” could, we realized, literally be a train or, more precisely, a job on the railroad.
After this realization, my client spent months trying to make connections with people in the railroad business. Several people he knew had some kind of rail transportation in their background — commuter rail, Amtrak, the subway system, marine rail. He pursued these connections.
More time passed, and gradually his enthusiasm began to wane. He grew despondent. Then a call to come for an interview came — when he was 2000 miles away, dealing with an ailing sibling. Had he blown his only chance? Had he missed his train — again? Was this whole idea of starting out in the railroad, in the midst of middle age, just a foolish pipedream?
I gave him a copy of the lyrics to “Another Train.” I talked about my own second chances, and those of friends and clients I have known. We brainstormed additional ways he could find his way into the railroad system. He left the session somewhat heartened, tentatively acknowledging that maybe “there’s another train, there always is,” and perhaps the next one could be his.
The following morning, I came into my office to a message from this client. He had, he said, good news. The railroad had called two hours after our session, and he was getting an interview for an available position the following week! When I saw him today, he said the interview went well, and he thought he had a good shot at the job. But he also had a backup plan, just in case. You guessed it — another train job for another railroad.
I’ve started to see that second chances are everywhere. In Hollywood, for instance, actors seem to be in every film that opens for a few years, and then many of them disappear, only to arrive on the scene some years later for another run. John Travolta and Jon Voigt come to mind, but there are many others. Their initial trains went off on a siding, but eventually another train came along, and they stepped up and climbed aboard.
In my own life, I’ve come to see the value of the “Another Train” philosophy. I now see losses not so much as tragedies but as unexpected forks in the road. Relationships, jobs, other “lost” opportunities are also opportunities, one door closing so another one can open. Photography disappeared for 20 years, but when I picked up a camera again it returned with freshness and vibrancy. Writing has come and gone many times. I have a strong fathering instinct, but have no children of my own. That fathering instinct, however, has come into play many times with the clients I work with, many of whom need a kind of re-parenting. The next train for them is me, the good parent figure. The next train for me is them, the child — often in an adult’s body — who needs a good father.
Loss, now, is followed by a period of mourning for what was lost and for what I imagined would be yet to come, and then by an absence of regret. There’s another train, I tell myself. And, in one form or another, there always is.
What inspires you to get up and climb aboard? When, in your life, have you found another train?
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Cultivating Creativity group
Flower Mandalas Project group
: Fifteen Flower Mandalas
© 2008, David J. Bookbinder