A physicist friend once explained the main elements of relativity to me. All I can remember now is something about time slowing down the faster a body travels. I’m not sure about the physics but it feels to me that the slower my daily round of workplace activity gets the faster I travel towards the exit. An inverse law of relativity of some sort.
Anyway the days slide past quickly now like the name plates on wayside halts as the express thunders through heedless of anything except there’s an appointed time and place where it (and you) have to be.
Despite the sickening speed some folks have got off safely. The compartments and carriages are emptier now. The few travellers who are left running through the checks of personal bits and bobs they will be taking with them at the terminus.
‘The train will terminate here. Will all customers please take a moment to ensure you take all your personal belongings with you.’
I have caught up recently with a few colleagues who have successfully left the train already. They talk with wonder about how quickly the rumbling train left them behind. Suddenly finding themselves somewhere new, somewhere they had chosen to be however strange and exotic. I learned from them the healing properties of perspective.
On the Redundancy Express all your senses are filled with the banging and thumping, jostling and shaking of the journey. All this crowds out everything else. My friends tell me that it’s only when you step off the train and it becomes a speck in the distance that the objects all around assume their rightful shape and size.
I hope so.
Yesterday I heard from one of my old team who had been offered a job they dearly wanted. It was a golden moment. Their joy zapped undiminished through the ether or the fibre or whatever it is that powers the net round our way. Suddenly, with the issue of employment sorted, a wholly different way of living has opened up for them. More modest perhaps but sufficient. They are more than happy they are anticipating being content.
When I was young and had more energy I remember a late night student discussion that touched on the difference between happiness and contentment. I think we rather grandly formulated that while happiness was the gratification of the senses, contentment was the satisfaction of the soul.
The things you pontificate about when you’re young and know next to nothing.
But my various catch-ups have suggested to me that we might have been on to something. My friends seemed to me to be much more than happy. They were on a path to contentment. And under their own steam. No hurtling express train in sight.
Reading over this post suggests to me that I may come across as unusually fixated by trains. All I can plead is a childhood spent watching movies where trains were almost characters in their own right. Perhaps it’s just a British or a bloke’s thing to adduce all life’s lessons from a train ride.
‘All aboard …!’