When the train's a comin'

What to do with habitual thought

Photo courtesy of Antoine Beauvillian

Photo courtesy of Antoine Beauvillian

Many times in life, we are struck by a worrisome or stressful thought and feeling. It can nag and itch at us and we seem hopelessly helpless to turn away.

Soon enough, we become consumed by these thoughts and before long our feelings begin to affect our day.

If such thoughts and feelings become habitual, they can even affect a lifetime. Quite literally.

So, what do we do with such habitual thoughts?

Let me share a little story:

When my daughter was a baby, we moved to Greenwich, CT. For the first few weeks, we stayed with friends until our own house was ready.

Our friend’s house was perfect. It was walking distance to the center of town and absolutely charming for any young family. It had a great layout, lots of light, wonderful detail and a fabulous kid-friendly backyard.

I knew the cost of houses in Greenwich and marvelled at their luck in finding such a gem at a price point they could afford. Little did I know...but was soon to find out...there was a reason for their good fortune.

As we hustled ourselves to the backyard so the kids could play on that first day of our arrival, I soon noticed the distinctive sound of an oncoming train. Eyes wild and wide, I frantically looked around for its source.

Within seconds my senses were overwhelmed by the imposing presence of a commuter rail as it swooshed past us at the edge of the backyard...a stone’s throw from the swing set.

Amongst the many thoughts I had in that moment, I seemed most concerned with our (*cough, cough*, my) ability to survive the next three weeks with such a steady eruption of noise every few hours mere meters from the house.

It seemed to me that our schedule would be directly impacted and dictated by the schedule of the train. I would have to work around its’ presence since I was sure that the noise factor alone would be a disruptive force in naptime and playtime and bedtime and quiet time and so on.

A funny thing happened over the course of our three week stay, however.

As the days wore on, I forgot about the train. I forgot about the noise. I forgot about the schedule. I forgot about how I thought I would feel. I simply forgot and became engaged in the living of life.

Our only true reminder of the train schedule occurred during the evening news when the volume of the TV would surreptitiously increase as the train passed the house.

Train or no train, we all just got on with living.

It can be the same with our minds and with whatever habitual thought we may be entertaining.

Although it seems like such thought is relentless and all consuming...much like a train in a backyard...it is possible to turn away and simply engage in the living of life.

Trains, like thought, will come and go. It’s in their nature to do so.

Best let them carry on without getting carried away.

Lana Bastianutti