Melanie Spiller and Coloratura Consulting

Escapades in Early Music, Writing, and Editing

Taking the Train

with 2 comments

Last week at meditation, the koan was about a student going to the master and plaintively asking to be shown the light. The master responds that the light is nothing but the reaching for it is of value.

What struck me about this was not the obvious—that it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. For me, it was about fighting the urge within myself to resist change that I do not originate.

First, the destination versus journey words came up for me and then I got an image, the metaphor of a train. I am traditionally the engine, pulling things where I want them to go, riding high near the light, large and in charge. But the truth is, some of the best journeys I’ve had in my life were from the caboose, content to see what comes as it comes, not to control or direct.

I thought about this for a while, seeing how the metaphor fit into various aspects of my life present and past. Yes, as an introvert, I have a tendency to be the engine and not notice or know whether there are other cars on the train. But what I love about travel is exactly the caboose metaphor. I might have a plan and know how I’m getting there, but I love to let things unfold and just see where the train goes and where that trip takes me. I love to flip a coin to decide my path when I’m on vacation.

Why do I have such a separation between my “normal” life and my traveling self? How can I put that willingness to go with the flow into my daily life?

Hmmm. There is change afoot nearly everywhere I look. Some of it excites me, some frightens me, and some I seem to be ignoring. If I think about the exciting changes, they have to do with the season (figs are in the stores again—did you hear me? Figs!) and with some creative endeavors. If I think about the frightening ones, they are mostly creative and somewhat financial, which I suppose ends up being creative, and they are also somewhat physical, with some concerns about health, mine and others that I care about. And the changes that I ignore? They are too numerous to count and I suppose mostly in the category of the mundane (such as the dust accumulating on things), some more things to do with the seasons, and a kind of relaxing of musical effort as the season comes to a close.

So creative things are both exciting and scary. What does that mean? And what if I think that nearly everything I do is creative? That would seem to mean that I find creative efforts exciting, scary, and mundane. Hmm.

So where does that leave me on the train? Can I make my way to the caboose? Is it possible to instigate creative things and then let them run amok without taking charge of them? Just let them go wherever they go and not try to take charge?

Perhaps the expression shouldn’t be “taking” the train, because that implies control of it. Perhaps it should be “riding” the train.

Written by Melanie Spiller

July 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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2 Responses

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  1. Or rather “getting on the train” to another destination, another discovery?

    As a former long-term traveler, I am always disappointed in my (now) shorter traveling adventures, now that I’ve joined the respectable working-class ranks again. We go on a 2-week vacation and we quickly fall into our “long-term travel” mind – not obsessing about what to see next, just enjoying where we are now – and then we’re too quickly reminded that there’s a return flight waiting for us just 5 or 4 or 3 days away….


    July 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm

  2. Wonderful, insightful, thought laden, concise and inspirational. It was again a pleasure to follow yet another gem summoned expertly from your creative cache, or, if you will permit, “train of thought.” Thanks again, Melanie!


    July 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

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