Sobbing on a Speeding Train…
The dark underbelly of the train station presses up against the window as fluorescent lights above me flicker and go out. Before my eyes adjust to the blackness, my boot knocks over one of my bags and my heels begin to bounce in a restless jig. The stranger beside me unwraps his toasted meatball sandwich and as the tinfoil crinkles against my frayed nerves, my stomach flips in hungry protest.
Claustrophobia wraps its arms around my shoulders and I suck in oxygen across my teeth and visualize myself walking the leafy streets of Montreal so I won’t give in to the urge to wrestle my luggage off this steel monster.
As the lights flicker again, my seat mate balls up the remnants of foil and takes a loud, sucking bite from the apple in his fist. I press down hard against my legs and begin to count.
Thankfully, before I reach 9-Mississipi, the train shudders beneath me and we chug out into the light. Unfortunately, the desire to run doesn’t disappear and as I stare past the graffiti covered walls, the pressure continues to build until its only escape is through the tears that run in stubborn rivers down my cheeks. Angling my body towards the window, I will the tears to stop, but they don’t listen.
These are angry, pay-attention-to-me tears. Tears of exhaustion from a year without a fixed address; tears of fear over the mammoth Fresh Chapter Foundation building challenges ahead; and tears of pain over the pulled muscle in my ribs which makes every single breath feel like the sting of unsuspecting skin as a band-aid is wrenched off. And, if I am really honest, the tears are about being angry at myself. After promising I would not give stress a place of value in my post-cancer life, I find myself running ragged in an attempt to ensure that Big Hairy Audacious Dreams come together as “perfectly” as possible.
Like a leaky faucet, the tears continue to drip. They pool near my nose and dive onto my sweater. With my face angled towards the window, I paw through my bag, searching for a Kleenex, and come up empty-handed. Eventually, I settle for using my toque to mop up the carnage. I keep each sniffle to a whisper so the apple crunching stranger won’t ask me if I’m ok and I won’t have to break into the ugly cry and tell him that “no I’m not ok” and “yes, I’m feeling more than a little on edge.”
Instead, I slip my headphones into my ears and stare out the window until the city streets turn into wide open fields. Until the tears stop dripping and until I see a skype message from a friend who reminds me that the occasional snotty-nosed cry on a train is not a sign of failure. It’s a sign of being human.
We are all capable of ending up in places we swore we would never go back to. And, even if my pit stop in the land of stressed and overwhelmed is a small price to pay for chasing big dreams, I’ve learned that when all I want to do is cry, maybe I need to let it out and then find ways to lean into joy.
Which brings me to right back here with you…
Inviting you to step on that train with me so you can smell the meatball sandwich and maybe even feel a little less alone with your own challenges makes me forget about all of stress and reminds me why I’m chasing these big dreams in the first place.
It reminds me that it’s not about perfection. Sometimes, the only solution to a complex and overwhelming, steepest learning curve of your life, dream is to boo-hoo all over your winter hat and then to admit that you don’t have all of the answers before deciding to keep inching forward anyways.
“Remember, success is not measured by heights attained but by obstacles overcome. We’re going to pass through many obstacles in our lives: good days, bad days. But the successful person will overcome those obstacles and constantly move forward.”
Whether you feel like joining me by sharing your most embarrassing sob fest or writing about the big dreams you are chasing, I’d love to hear from you. Perhaps it will give me some good reading material the next time I am stuck between a meatball sandwich and a volcano of emotion…