There is a pencil sketch that hangs in my living room I bought years ago at a charity art auction entitled “Dawn” by an unknown artist. Train tracks run up the center of the picture and then split off into three different directions fading out into infinity while the morning sun peeks brightly from behind the station. When I saw this picture propped up on the bidding table it felt isolated from the other paintings, perhaps in a lonely kind of way but also in a thoughtful kind of way – as if it tried to go unnoticed sitting by its more vivid bidding family. For me, Dawn had a message. I too was at a crossroads trying to decide which path to take. I find myself there again now and each time I approach my couch at the end of the day, there it hangs reminding me that my train has been on one track long enough and what lies ahead is some necessary change.
The fact that Dawn is black and white seems to be a perfect fit because times like this, for me, are not filled with excitement and joy and thrilling adventures. Times like this are not painted with strong hues that jump off the canvas. Changing directions, altering paths, requires stillness and too much color, too much frivolity, will cloud judgment and distract focus. Natural early light is best – that clear headed thinking that has always come for me in the morning will help me decide how to begin the second half of my life.
When we bought this piece, I was deciding a marriage proposal and now we fast forward twenty years and I am traveling with the same partner but passengers have arrived and departed during our long ride. Being self-employed for as many years, we have seen employees come and go, die and move on, become family or burden. Friends have stepped on board placing their baggage next to ours which, at times, has helped distribute the weight comfortably.
Our daughter has boarded another train altogether and my role in motherhood has altered and somewhat disappeared. I find myself trying to figure out where the train is headed now and actually choose, for myself, which path to take.
The journey, filled with opportunity, the kind that feels like youth and idealism and passion and winning bravery, is balanced delicately with trepidation, the kind that feels like an icy wind against my bare cheeks and chills my deep breaths of courage every time I step away from the deeply grooved track I have traveled for years.
What if I get it wrong? But, oh my, what if I get it right?