I vaguely remember the face of my grandfather Homer, who died when I was 8 years old; it’s cruel how time chisels away at the moorings of a single memory. After a while, it lets go and is gone.
I was reminded of my grandfather the other day as I was watching a train roaring across the tracks over the Stone Bridge. It was a long coal train pulled by three powerful, jet-black, diesel locomotives. Even from a distance, I could feel the raw power of those engines as they passed by. The clickety-clanking of the wheels hypnotically were calling out to anyone listening.
My grandfather worked in the train yards and absolutely loved trains with a passion – as evidenced by his extensive model train collection.
My mother tells me he was a free spirit in his younger, married days. On his time off, he’d often, on the spur of the moment, hop on a train and ride it to wherever it took him.
His free-spirit motto was: There was no time like the present to just go for it!
Now, I don’t know about hopping onto a train like a hobo and riding wherever it takes me, but I dig the idea of seizing the moment while you can, while you are able, and have the time to just go for it.
I suppose my grandfather was wise in his earlier “go-for-it” years, because one day, as fate would have it, as he finished repairs to the giant turntable that pivoted locomotives around in the rail yard, an engineer accidently (thinking granddad was clear) activated the table and my grandfather’s left leg got caught and was crushed off at the knee in an instant. He would later tell my mother how strange it was seeing his leg and foot with his boot still on, at the bottom of the pit.
Needless to say, he spent the rest of his life on disability.
Mom said he would always complain about his wooden leg never fitting properly. He was constantly whittling on it, so it would fit his stump better. After he lost his leg, he was restless and longed to answer the adventurous call of the tracks.
My grandfather never spontaneously hopped another train again and passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Let me ask you, what spontaneous trains in your life have you wanted to hop on and just go wherever it would take you, only to be held at bay by the pesky gremlins of self-doubt or worry?
Psychologist Wayne Dyer said this: “Go for it now. The future is promised to no one!”
The fact is, if we procrastinate going for it, until life’s circumstances are perfect – the children are grown, the house is paid for, wait till you are older, wait until I am married, wait until I get a better job, hold off until the economy gets better, blah, blah, blah – the window of opportunity, without warning, may slam shut.
Wait, listen ... do you hear that? The tracks are calling – go for it.
Robin L. Quillon is the publisher of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read stories in their entirety, visit one of these links: