Stop this train...
Thoughts on accepting the passage of another year
Every year it seems to happen the same (at least for me... ).
“I can’t believe how quickly the year went.”
“I can’t believe how quickly the party went.”
“I can’t believe how quickly the vacation went.”
In “Stop This Train”, John Mayer captures the essence of our bittersweet relationship with time:
“Stop this train I want to get off and go home again I can't take the speed it's moving in I know I can't But honestly, won't someone stop this train?”
Humans have the great paradoxical gift of being aware of the passage of time, the slow, methodical ticking away of our lives.
In a perfect world, time should stop forever during the best times and fast-forward during the bad times.
And yet, not only is that impossible, it would eradicate meaning itself. Boredom would quickly creep in.
It’s exactly what happened to me on a project in Dallas, when our team went out to lunch and dinner for every single meal one week. By the weekend, sitting down to look at a menu left an impression of apathy, even disgust. It was no longer a special occasion, but a mundane routine.
Positive experiences, like life itself, have meaning to us precisely because they can be taken away. They are scarce and finite, making them special. They don’t last forever, making them moments that must be appreciated while they are happening. And only then.
As Montaigne said (1),
“No good can bring us pleasure except one which we have prepared ourselves to lose.”
There is no way to make time to tick slower, to make a good time last forever… nor should we want it that way.
The train keeps chugging.
John’s father seems to get this through to John towards the end of the song:
"Don't stop this train Don't, for a minute, change the place you're in And don't think I couldn't ever understand I tried my hand John, honestly, we'll never stop this train"
Cheers to a 2021 that’s on its inevitable last leg. And here’s to a fun, productive, and healthy 2022 that’ll chug along just the same.
1) Essays, Michel de Montaigne