Next Stop Willoughby

Have you ever had a dream that seemed so vivid, so real, that it was something you found you would remember for years to come?  They don't happen for me that often but this most recent of dreams was an incredibly relevant analog to the choices, the decisions and the changes and the challenges in my own life that I have been facing.  It was a simple dream but one which I believe will resonate with many.  Perhaps my dream was a manifestation of an old Twilight Zone Episode that resounds strongly with me each time I randomly happen to see it.  In any event, this is how it went.....

I was on a train traveling to another city.  The day was bright and sunny and the scenery outside my window was whipping past my window as I looked around the coach from the comfortable window seat I was in.  The idyllic Currier and Ives scene was not to last as I suddenly had a premonition.  In that moment I saw the future.  There was to be a huge train wreck.  The train that I was on would make it's next station stop and then, after departing the station and getting up to speed, would derail into a tangled mass of metal in the surrounding woods.  Everyone who was on board the train at that point would die.

In a panic I looked around me at the nearly full coach and began to race from person to person to warn them of the impending doom they faced if they did not get off the train at the next stop. Each person I told responded in disbelief or simply laughed at me.  Many went on to tell me about their own lives and their own stories and so each person became real to me and not simply just another passenger.  I came to feel connected to them in their stories they told me....which made it all the worse to know that they would all die in a short time.

Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone", episode is:  "A Stop at Willoughby"   - Synopsis:  Tired of his miserable job and wife, a businessman starts dreaming on the train each night, about an old, idyllic town called Willoughby. Soon he has to know whether the town is real and fancies the thought of seeking refuge there.

 The train slowed and came into the last station it would ever stop at.  The conductor called for all who were getting off to make their way to the doorway.  I recall in my dream that I ran to the front of the car and looked down the steps of the coach through the open door at the station below.  Then I turned my head back to the coach filled with the soon to be doomed passengers.  The conductor, standing on the platform now, beckoned me to get off but I stood frozen, unable to move.

If I disembarked from the train, I would save myself but I would have to forever live with the fact that these people who I had come to know on the train would die,  If I stayed on the train then I would die but would not have to feel like I was a failure to save them.  I tried to but could not decide.  In that moment of back and forth indecision as to whether I should live or die, I found myself suddenly awake, eyes open.  I had not made the decision.  I couldn't.

I discussed this overly vivid, technicolor dream with several of my close girlfriends and the meaning, spoken independently by each but in unison was the same.  The train was my journey through this life.  The passengers were the people I had come to know and love.  The decision was whether I transition to live to my life truly and authentically, potentially hurting those around me or to lose them from my life altogether.  If I did choose to disembark from the train, choose to transition, then I would face their loss.  If I chose to stay on board the train I would not lose them but I would die a little inside each day.  In reality, that death would be the death of the authentic me but the guilt of hurting others in so doing would be gone.

I know that we all face choices in life and that some of  those choices we make will affect others around us.  In reality, my own choices have brought me far greater love, friendship and acceptance than what I have lost. I went from being a two dimensional character play acting a role in the theater of my life to becoming someone who exudes her happiness in ways that allow me to give to others.....ways that I could never have been able to give before.

Each one of us will face similar situations, similar choices that may make us wonder whether or not we will be able to live with the decision and the potential losses we may face.   But we must also realize that with one door closing, another opens and that door can lead on to amazing things which we cannot yet perceive, not yet see.  We can do more for others if we can find peace and contentment alive then we could if we chose the alternative. This is my stop.  I'm stepping off the train and stepping through the door into a world that I am finding fits just perfectly for me and one which others who surround and support me help affirm.


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