A Hole Where McDonald’s Used to Be

On our journey through our lives we often spend long, long periods travelling through terrain we could navigate with our eyes closed.  Everything is the same as it ever was – for good or ill  – and that train we are all travelling on is moving so slowly that the movement is actually imperceptible.

Then one day you might wake up and discover a lump in your breast or begin a suspicious cough or your marriage breaks up or you lose your job or one of the many, many tragedies that fill the world may strike you – and suddenly you are a complete tourist.

Or maybe you don’t arrive at your new destination like that.  Maybe you arrive there on the imperceptible train of life.  Maybe one day you open your eyes and look around and your body is unrecognisable.  Old and tired.  Your kids have grey hair, you are looking death in the eye and the girl in the shop thinks you’re old and ‘past it.’

However you get there the thing is now you aren’t in a place you recognise from its pictures.  You are like a tourist on a planet at the edge of the galaxy.  Sure you’ve heard about it.  You might even think you know about it.  You know statistics about it – where it is – how to get there – what the atmosphere should be like – but it is so incredibly different from home that you are scared and lost and not at all sure that you are going to be able to make your way through this terrain safely.

So what are your choices?  Well you might decide at first that this new place is the same as ‘home’ and that all you need to do is act exactly as you would at home.  This may or may not work out for you.  It’s likely that it won’t.  Even if it seems to work, one day you’ll turn a corner expecting McDonalds to be there and you’ll fall down a hole.  Because the thing is that this journey through life renders us all tourists, all the time.

Change is inevitable.

We change.

Our environment changes.

And it makes no difference what we want.

Nobody’s asking our assent, we’re just carried along on the change.

9 Comments

  1. All true and very well said! But you forgot about the good changes. The happy surprises. We don’t pay much attention to them I think because we believe there is nothing to learn from them. They don’t fit in the ‘things I should know to keep me safe’ box. Learning to stay safe is only part of the story. Getting in the way of discovery is the other part. Keeping the balance between these two might be the trick. I know I’m a cock-eyed optimist since my first thought after ‘oh no, we’re all going to die on the runway!’ was ‘well, at least I won’t have to wait at the carousel for my bags.’ Anyway, thanks Trish, I love your slant on things, it gets me thinking xx

    1. I didn’t forget about the good changes, I swear 🙂 – it’s just that I have never seen anyone (including myself) avoid change because they think it might have a good outcome. You are, of course, right that change often improves things but avoidance of that isn’t too widespread! On the other hand, I have seen lots of avoidance and denial of change in general and I figure that is at least partly caused by the fact that we feel we have a choice. ‘I like my life the way it is and I won’t change’ etc. I know we have a choice vis a vis some changes – but we are often presented with circumstances where our only choice is between rolling with the punches and accommodating the change or falling down a hole! Before we know how to accommodate change we have to first realise its inevitability. Thanks, Ann.

  2. Or…you have a heart attack, as I did. And I know exactly what you mean. Its as though you’ve been riding on the same train your entire life. Then one day, for whatever reason, you suddenly find yourself standing along side the track, watching the train go by. And even if you manage to get back on (which most do), your view of the passing landscape will never be the same.

    Perhaps “PTSD” (Post Train Stop Disorder) would be a good acronym for the experience you’ve described. 😉

    1. I think this is a pretty widespread experience, William and though I know the experiences themselves are tough going the altered view you describe is often very valuable. I hope you are well and have recovered from your heart attack and I have to say that I laughed out loud at Post Train Stop Disorder! Perfect! Thanks! 🙂

  3. “we are only ever new to a place once” -patricemj

    I am reminded of this by your last post and this one. While this struck me as a fundamental truth. The part that I’m just now coming to terms with is that each new day holds things I never could have fathomed, and each day, becomes a new place to reckon with. To grow accustomed to. Each twist, no matter the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ of it, is interesting if nothing else.

    Each day is living the change as our train car slips the stations and bookmarks of our lives. I think maybe we keep those curtains down too much in the day to day, or stare out the window too much and the attention we spend on it defines how stark the changes seem. But the same amount has changed whether we observe it or not. I guess we do get to choose. It’s like watching my kids grow up.

    One day I can hold them in my two hands, and then the next I’m noticing their heads peeping up over the kitchen table, and then the next moment when they fall asleep on the long car ride home? and need to be carried up to their beds… My back tells me I can’t do it anymore. And one day. I’ll look back fondly on all of this, and one day, I won’t look anymore.

    Right now, I keep my eyes open for the holes in the ground and deepening crows feet in my friends faces. We all get to choose how we live; we all get to choose to acclimate or wither. We also have a bit of determinism about ourselves, but that’s really it isn’t it? We decide, to a great degree, how to live.

  4. I love the title… It caught my attention! We are tourists in this game of life and might as well enjoy the scenery, the offerings and all the kindness shown us. Then do some of same for others and move on. 😉

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