Riding the Train to Tomorrow

Every year for New Year’s, there is a screening on television of many episodes of the classic television series The Twilight Zone. Every year like clockwork (pun not intended) there are some episodes my wife and I record on the DVR and then watch later — we aren’t about to stay up until two in the morning to watch something when we can just record it and watch it later. This year we caught an episode that neither of us had heard of or remembered and enjoyed quite a bit.

This is a bit of a spoiler if you’ve never seen the episode, so proceed with caution. A couple wakes up in an unfamiliar place after getting super drunk at a party. They soon find that the entire apartment in which they find themselves is like the set of a play. Soon they go wandering around the town looking for someone — anyone! Everything they find is artificial. Finally, they find a train that is leaving the town — only instead of leaving, it just goes right back where it started. Flustered, they get out of the train and are plucked up by a giant hand — an alien child (looking remarkably human) looking at her new acquisitions, human toys with which to play.

It occurred to me as the new year began that in a way, life is a bit like that train ride. Every morning we wake up and have a full set of things that need doing and adventures to have. Every evening we board that train and it takes us on an overnight journey right back where we were at the beginning of the ride — yet it is ever so slightly different. It is different because it is a new morning and we can only do things to change the future, not the past.

All of the things we did before today are now memories that we made. Like Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite, a life can be wasted thinking about how things should have been different if only this had happened then, or if only we had take this course, or if we had talked to this person or taken the initiative to do that thing. Sitting and pontificating those past events may by some be a way to plan for future success, but dwelling too much in the past will not bring us a brighter tomorrow.

We can only do what we can do today, for tonight the train awaits us to take us to tomorrow — and it’s a one way trip!

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