Most people call it ‘gossip.’ Some people call it ‘drama.’ She calls it ‘listening.’ That’s all she ever does. She’ll ask, but sometimes she doesn’t. Usually she doesn’t need to. It’s like an imaginary seatbelt gets buckled and she’s stuck. Secure, but still stuck. She can be like a passenger on a runaway train. She doesn’t have a ticket, neither does anyone else. You don’t need one, just take a number.
One day, fourteen years ago, a fellow passenger makes a bold move to the adjacent seat. She said she had something to show her. To this day, she can still see what she was shown. She didn’t understand it. Tell me about it, she implored. The fellow passenger refused. The one who refused, the one who got away. The one who instilled the quest for knowledge, the development of all-hearing ears.
She now faced The Daily Choice extremely head-on: “You can be compassionate toward people or not… In one way, you become a hero; in the other way, you’re part of the problem” (George Lucas, “The Power Of Myth: Star Wars”). She is bombarded with opportunities – they’re coming at her one after another – now, it’s like all of the passengers have opened their windows while it’s raining – she can hardly see – she can hardly breathe – she manages to get an umbrella open – she begins to manage it all. She so desperately wants to be the hero, to solve the problems, to hear all of the stories, to embrace all of the drama, to change the perspective, to ease the dissonance.
She has her own problems, her own hardships, her own decisions to make, she almost gets lost. At times she does get lost. How can this corridor be so like a maze? How does it fit on the track? We’ve not passed any depots, aren’t there any stops? Suddenly, she’s trapped in the caboose. This is an old train.
Organizing her thoughts, she begins to write down every one of them. Every one of her thoughts, until there is nothing more to write. She fills pages – and with every page she turns, a traincar disappears. The engine and the caboose remain, but the dining car goes – then the first class car – the sleeper car – like links being removed from a too-long watchband. Closing in tighter and tighter as she flips another pagefull.
Finally, mental clarity and epiphany jolt her as the caboose links with the coal car. She’s reached the end.
Or the beginning.
(Written for my Narrative master class last October)