A Life of Death

Life is a Train Ride

To some people, contemplation of our life journey is viewed as an existential crisis. To others, it allows for the application of practical wisdom.

Publish 15 July 2021

All Aboard

When each of us is born, we begin a 3000-mile train ride to the length of our mortality. Many disembark early but the goal is to reach the end in a first-class cabin. During the first 600 miles, we are wide-eyed tourists snapping pictures of the adventure.

Most of us ignore an apparent huckster who offers boarding passes to extend our ride. This early point of our destina­tion seems to hold out endless possibili­ties. Through higher education, we become virtual experts in geography and we dine on available delicacies.

At stops along the way, other passen­gers board the train. By 800 miles into our journey, we look forward to meeting another passenger in the dining car. With our new traveling companion, we may marry, decorate our cabin, have children, and teach them geo­graphy on this trans­continental life ride.

We occasionally get sick, recover, and set new goals. The ultimate destination still seems many miles away as we pass the 1800-mile marker. We now vacillate over the requirements for the mysterious end-of-line boarding pass.

Prepare For the Next Stop

Life of Death

At 2200 miles, it becomes difficult to ignore the inevitable destination. In retrospect, the ride now seems short. By 2500 miles, the valuable education, experiences, and accomplish­ments will soon lose their value. Every­thing we acquire remains on the train for new passengers to discard or enjoy on the train’s new destina­tion.

Advancing closer to 3000 miles, we ask, Is there anything more to accom­plish on this train? Does another boarding pass seem like a foolhardy investment?

Through substance abuse or risky life choices, many people end their ride early. An individual can pursue a literal life or death in profes­sions like a mortician, medical examiner, or surgeon. To philosophers, such contempla­tion bodes an existen­tial crisis or dread.

The years pass. We view popular movie stars from the silver screen era who are no longer with us. Relatives and contem­poraries with careers in techno­logy and finance are disembarking the figurative train.

It is evident that each of us—no matter how smart or talented—will also exit. To live life without reflection on this eventuality is folly. As you gaze out the window wherever you are on this journey, what are your plans while living? The choices you make, physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually affect how you feel when approaching your destination.

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