Friday, September 01, 2006

Mama Says Om - Train

This week, the theme at Mama Says Om is "train".

The word springs from the Old English traynyn, thence from the Old French trahiner and the Latin tragina, all meaning to pull or drag something along behind one or one's conveyance. Synonyms for train include: alternation, appendage, caravan, chain, column, concatenation, consecution, convoy, cortege, course, court, day coach, entourage, file, following, gradation, line, order, procession, progression, retinue, row, run, scale, sequel, sequence, set, string, succession, suite, tail, thread, tier, track, trail, wake.

One sees signs like this one at rural crossings and train stations all over France, and they have given me much food for thought over the years, not to mention a wry chuckle now and then. In English, the sign may construed as saying, "Attention, watch your step, look both ways and be very careful crossing this track. There may be another train hidden (or lurking) right behind the one you are looking at now."

There is (of course) a specific and practical context here: that we should be cautious when standing on a train platform, watching a train, boarding a train, conducting or driving a train or perhaps just thinking about trains when we are otherwise engaged, but the words have a much wider application. They are an admonishment to be mindful of our thoughts and actions and aware of their hidden consequences, wherever we are and whatever we are doing - whether we are participating, creating or simply being observers in one of life's many activities. Trains and railway tracks are good metaphors for this voyage we are all on together, and when I encounter one of these signs, I also find myself thinking of the expression "running off the rails", something that happens to all of us from time to time.

My French railway sign holds out excellent advice for anything and everything in life - it all comes down to a very Zen thing methinks, keeping one's eye on the ball (or train) and paying attention to what one is doing while she is doing it. Pinning such a sign on my bulletin board would be a wise manoeuvre - I am always forgetting to pay attention and wonder if I will ever "get it right".


Maya's Granny said...

A very important idea. One never knows just what else is out there if one doesn't stop, look, and listen which is also a way of saying take some time and be mindful in what you do.

mary said...

lovely photo and great take on the train theme. I believe I need to tattoo that to my eyelids. I am rather clumsy and barrel through life much to quickly!

Anonymous said...

Thought provoking, especially for a city kid whose city has only gotten limited stretches of track between 'burbs. But--the London underground and the subways of the Eastern cities always fascinate me when there is no train--and you see those rails below--and you know the consequences if you jumped or were pushed. I remember a trip with my little ones on a train to Phoenix one time--and my son, probably four, would not cross between cars to use the bathroom in the next car because it scared him. Great metaphor--train.

Shelley said...

Great photo, great post.

(As usual!)