Personal train wrecks

Posted 04.05.15

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The disaster and tragedy at Lac Megantic, Quebec -- the train wreck supreme -- remains in our minds. Flames in the sky, billowing black clouds, night-time explosions, all framed by buildings which could have been any of our neighbourhoods (those near train tracks).

The horror in that little town has prompted inquiries and commissions, journalism by the tonne, and plenty of back-pedalling -- all focused on avoiding such disasters ever again. However, remember that as horrendous as this was, it only happened once.

Should there be a nation-wide effort to prevent one spectacularly horrid event from happening -- and not the daily train wrecks of our lives?

Calling our reaction "national", as we do, takes our focus away from the daily train wrecks and puts it on the celebrity events.

These are not the bus being hit at a crossing, an oil spill into a river, an evacuated neighbourhood -- not these.

We all undergo multiple train wrecks, almost weekly, everywhere, marriages unravel, illicit affairs crash down, wounding words are flung, all the walking away, slammed doors -- train wrecks. Not strung out in boxcars, these are the lives of real people, real families, wrecks within friendships, working partnerships, between desks or tables, all train wreaks as awful to experience as anything with flames and smoke.

How could we have a national effort to prevent these millions of daily train wrecks, they are so personal, so private, so wounding -- how could they be national?

Well, OK, better education for us all; try that. Counselling available to everyone who needs it. OK, try that as part of national health-care! These things, at least, are public actions. And unrealistic.

These daily wrecks are things we create or fall into, and so they are up to us. We are the protagonists, the players; we’re the smart folks who can burn a candle at both ends -- or so we occasionally think.

Listen, smart guys, listen up.

We have to actually be smart, in our actions and decisions and choices, and it’s our actions that show how smart we really are.

"Step back from the car", is a great motto here: take one step backwards as the first step forwards.

As we move towards anything, one pause, one step, we review the ground around us carefully. We already have done this, we usually tell ourselves in each case, but recall the Richard Powers Law: if you feel you understand what you’re facing, look again, more carefully.

This is no argument against spontaneity. Be as impetuous as your emotions wish, but start each impetuous act with one step backwards. Not to change your mind or re-think anything -- heaven forbid our emotions should lead us astray.

Remember what we always respond with: "I never thought this would happen!". Which is how humanity seems to proceed, rushing into, backing into, whatever it is, whatever is today’s eyes-wide-shut decision. One step backwards opens the eyes. Or it’s a start.


Copyright © 2015 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/04.15