On the track….


I remember about 10 years ago I was doing my psychiatry rotation in medical school. There was this one psychiatry teacher who had a rather unorthodox way of teaching, but it was effective. He would have us sitting in his immaculately furnished private consulting room, and teach us for an hour between patients.

There was this one thing he did that I will always remember. I don’t know what the hell it had to do with psychoses and depressive symptoms and all of the things we had to learn, but it was interesting regardless.

He drew a picture of a steam train, going along a track. In front of the train, he drew a picture of a boy and girl (stick figure) running ahead of it.

He then wrote the caption underneath:

“If we just keep running, we can beat the train”.

Our first thought: “That’s silly. Why can’t they just jump off the track and that way they won’t be hit by the train?”

Interesting metaphor for life, really.

There are some tracks that we go down in order to arrive at a destination.

For me, the destinations had been set out. I knew what the stops were going to be, for the next 10 years at least.

My train had been derailed a time or two.

I had to offload some unhelpful cargo.

The view had become boring, then scary.

Trying to keep ahead of the train had become exhausting. The very idea of jumping off the track did not occur to me for a while, though.

When it did occur to me, it was a bit hard. The drop either side was treacherous. The train might derail and flip with severe consequences. I might not make it, might get squashed underneath it.


Finally, I stopped trying to outrun it.

I got in the front, punched out the driver and started driving it myself. I shunted it to other tracks, to places I had not been before. I am taking the scenic route.

Of course, it is not all scenic. Some places are dodgy. Some are dark. Some are best rode right through.

It is far more satisfying than trying to outrun the bloody thing.

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