Driving the Train

There are two types of people in this world.

People who actively steer their own destiny…

Purpose Life

…and people who essentially sit back and let life happen to them.

A few years ago when the economy went into the toilet tank and I was a brand new business owner, someone said to me:

Think of this situation like a train ride.  We’re the passengers.  We can’t control what track this train is on…or how fast it goes…but we can stick our hands out the window and grab the positive things within our reach.

I believed that….for a while.  Now, I think the person who gave me that advice attends too many Grateful Dead concerts and smokes the happy pipe of life.

There is no doubt that I was a passenger on the train of life the past few years.  Some situations, like my mom’s death and the economic climate were out of my control.  In fact, it seemed like I wasn’t in control of much at all.  After a while, the train ride in the passenger cabin took a harsh  toll.   I felt very UNcertain…UNappreciated…UNinspired…and UNmotivated.

Just before the holidays of 2011, I decided that enough was enough.  “Passenger No More!” It was time to march up to the front of that train, kick its incompetent engineer aside, and take over.  And that, my friends, was the last and final day of the UNs.

Being passive and letting life happen led to a life where my hopes and dreams were unrealized.  In fact, at some point I got off the train altogether and watched it pass by, waving goodbye from the platform.

(c) A Motvicka dreamstime.com

As a passenger, we aren’t responsible if the train runs of the track.

From the platform, we play it the safe and avoid all risk of a crash.

As the engineer, we have control. We may not be able to change tracks right away, but we can decide on our own speed, see what’s ahead of us, and make decisions about where to stop and what to pass by.  We can also insist that all dead weight be removed.

There are certainly going to be periods in our lives where we simply must buy a ticket and go along for the ride.  But, there are also times when we must take control…drive our own train…shape our own destiny…and sound the steam whistle.

 Train © A. Vörös dreamstime.com Woooh! Wooooh!

What about you – do you feel more like a passenger or a driver right now?

20 responses to this post.

  1. Big heavy sigh.

    I have been a passenger for a long time. But a passenger CAT; I’ve always landed on my feet.

    But things are changing. Big things. I’m afraid and empowered. I know this time next year I will laugh. Right now, I shudder and cry.

    I will land on my feet, this time because I put them there.

    (Cute coat!)


    • Meooow, Sid….”A passenger CAT” – love it! With that attitude, you will surely be laughing at this time next year – can’t wait to hear about what the future unfolds for you!


  2. Too many times I feel like a passenger. I know what it’s like to sit in the driver’s seat, but sometimes the slide back isn’t noticed until your feet are up and your eyes are closed. At the moment, I feel more like the driver. 🙂

    What you’ve said is so true. The ones who drive enjoy life more.


    • Hi Diane! Drive, drive, drive, my friend.

      Feet up, eyes closed is a comfortable position, until your neck and back start to hurt and it’s time to get up and streatch. Speaking of sleeping in moving vehicles, I do that all the time in the car…something about the vibration that puts me in zzzzzzzz mode.


  3. Yep, I’ a passenger now and riding coach. Very uncomfortable.
    Thanks for the pepper upper. 🙂


    • Hopefully you have a window or aisle seat in couch. If you’re squashed into the middle seat, it may be time for an upgrade. You can do it!


  4. Letting life mold us by being a mere passenger is such a waste. Buy being the engineer we refuse to just let things evolve. We can be the captains of our destiny. To a large degree anyway. But there’s no finding out just buying a ticket. The train is a good metaphor for taking charge of one’s life.


    • Hi Carl – great to hear from you! What you say is true – if we don’t take the engineer’s position, we never have the chance to find out where we can take ourselves. Personally, I like to drive the train, but often drive too slow. I really need to learn how to give it more diesel and just gooooooooo!


  5. Posted by pattisj on February 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Good to hear from you, Tracy. I’m glad to hear the UNs have lifted and you feel in control of life again. WOOOOH WOOOOH!!


  6. Excellent post topic, Tracy!

    I live my life being both the passenger AND the driver.

    And I think you pretty much summed up how I feel…

    “There are certainly going to be periods in our lives where we simply must buy a ticket and go along for the ride. But, there are also times when we must take control…drive our own train…shape our own destiny…and sound the steam whistle.”

    Personally, I live my life by going with my intuition. There are times when I feel the call to actively move in one direction towards something I feel pulling me down a particular path. But there are other times I sit back and allow life to take me where I NEED to go.

    I don’t always know what’s best for me, even though I think I might.

    Life for me is like dancing. Sometimes I lead, other times I follow.

    It’s staying attuned to know WHEN to take control, and WHEN to go along for the ride.

    And it’s taken me years to trust that.

    Again, great post, girl!

    Glad to see that you posted today!

    Have a great weekend…..X


    • You are always so insightful Ron. “I don’t always know what’s best for me, even though I think I might…..It’s staying attuned to know WHEN to take control, and WHEN to go along for the ride.”

      What I learned about myself is that as the passenger, I need to better recognize when my train driver is going in the wrong direction, and hop the tracks on over to a different train….like the cowboys in the old westerns. Yeeehaw Ron!


  7. Great post Tracy. It does feel good to be in the driver’s seat and in control of our own life.


  8. While I prefer to sit back and enjoy the view, I’ve come to see that nothing is accomplished if we simply sit back and let someone else drive us about. This past while I’ve been feeling particularily inspired to get behind the driver’s seat. Great post!


  9. I think we’re always driving the train. For me sometimes I’m taking control of the direction I’m going and sometimes, I’m on autopilot and using someone else’s map.

    ps. Good to see you blogging again!


  10. True words of wisdom, Tracy – I actually read this post twice. I can finally report that for once in my life, I’m the engineer. Was a long road, but now when I look back I can’t imagine ever reverting back to the old way of life. Love this post!!


  11. I guess I’m sort of 50-50. I do my duties of wife, mom, employee but I do have a bigger picture that I continually work on.


  12. ahhhhh very well put my dear.

    i’m back from my unannounced hiatus. thanks for not forgetting about me.

    i read this book awhile back. i liked it. there are certainly a lot of uncontrollables in life, but we can ALWAYS control how we respond to those things and what effect they have on our lives.


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