Most mornings begin with a long walk through the neighborhood; hound dog eagerly pulling at the end of her leash. This morning was no exception. A light snow had fallen overnight and I was enjoying watching the dog trotting through the field occasionally burying her nose in nature’s snowcone! We were walking along a greenbelt that has been allowed to grow back to its original brush and trees.
The path winds along next to a set of long-ago abandoned railroad tracks. As a child, I marveled at the long trains that slowly passed on those tracks, a mere block and a half from my parent’s home. There were once a series of warehouses and businesses in the area that relied on the rails for delivery of raw goods and transport of finished wares.
As we strayed off the path and closer to tracks, I noticed that bushes had grown between the rails. Some of them were almost my height. There was trash and broken glass strewn between the iron beams; a sad statement on the disposable nature of our society. It also spoke volumes for how far we still had to go in our stewardship of the environment!
For the most part, the tracks were still intact. Some of the wooden ties had begun to rot away and the rails were bejeweled with flakes of rust. The bedrock gravel was covered in black grit, the result of years of smokey diesel engines plodding along the trail. Every now and then a second set of rails would appear, a weather-worn mechanical switch standing vigilantly nearby. They had used these sections to remove cars from the train, rearranging the cargo in anticipation of upcoming deliveries. It stuck me that it had easily been a quarter century since any railway activity had occurred in this area.
How many tracks have I covered in my life? The question nagged away at me incessantly. I had loaded up my personal train with cargo, mapped out a route, and sped off to many an anticipated destination in my life. Sometimes the tracks would simply disappear or go off in a direction that I had not expected. Other times I would arrive at the depot, only to find that I had loaded up the wrong cargo. Worse yet, there were those times when I had managed to talk myself out of the entire journey; fearing that those tracks might lead absolutely nowhere!
In the past few months, I have diligently cleared my railroad tracks of all the brush. I have taken the time to remove the trash that others have thrown indiscriminately on my path. I have used the side rails to rearrange the cars that make up my load. The engine has been polished and fueled up for the next journey. The switches on the rails are freshly greased and in good working order. The rails are free of rust and the wooden ties have been replaced with fresh timber!
My first journey has been to return to my love of writing. One published book and some forty blog posts later; I am well on my way to a destination that I abandoned so many years ago! What depot will I end up at? The question does not matter, I am simply enjoying the journey and the feel of the train moving forward.
What about each of you? Have you forsaken that which was once dear to you? Has your railway fallen into disrepair; littered by others and overgrown from neglect? Are you willing to follow the tracks that may lead nowhere?