“Getting on the Right Track”

Dear Reader:

If you have ever had time to think about some of the best analogies or metaphors for life…you would be hard-pressed to find one better than a train.

Humans have had a love affair with the train since its creation. I love looking at paintings of trains…and have decided there is never a bad season in which to travel on one. Hot summer rides, spring in all its beauty, fall with its colorful foliage outlining the tracks and even winter with its snowy embankments forming perimeters filled with snowflakes of every size and intricate beauty.

Think about the number of expressions we still use that originated from the train at some point. There are a surprising number of common sayings or metaphors that came from railroading. 

  • On the right track
  • Fallen by the wayside
  • Full steam ahead
  • Full head of steam
  • Letting off steam
  • Don’t blow your stack
  • End of the line
  • Backtrack
  • On the fast track
  • Wrong side of the tracks
  • Light at the end of the tunnel
  • Train wreck
  • Plans got derailed
  • Off the rails
  • Making headway
  • Chugging along
  • Watch your caboose
  • ………………………………………………………………………………………………….

A couple of years ago…my cousins that I grew up with in Fayetteville … Susan and Marcia… came for a visit…we had a wonderful time. At some point in the visit Susan shared her father, Jim’s last words and thoughts, as he lay dying. It gave me chills.

He started asking if anyone else heard the train…he could hear the whistle blowing, it was slowing down, and it was time for him to go…to board the train to Glory. He passed soon after…

As I was going through family photos of the cousins all together when we were little at Myrtle Beach back in the fifties and early sixties… that memory of Jim’s death returned to me again.

(Ben is on the far left, I am standing in front of Aunt Grace next to him and then David is standing next to me in front of mother in the white blouse.)

Last January, a friend of mine, Lisa Register, sent me a beautiful metaphor of life and a train. It has been one of the most popular posts seen or “hit” since the original blog post.

Below…is a copy of this ‘pause for moment’ metaphor to take it in.

“Intuitive Dawnings.”

The Train

At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel by our side. As time goes by, other people will board the train and they will be significant… i.e. our siblings, friends, children, strangers and the love of your life.

However at some distant point, some random station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. Others will step down over time and leave a permanent vacuum.

Some, however, will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize they vacated their seats.

(*To me the train travelers who had the opportunity to interact and become a part of the others passengers’ lives but chose not to are the saddest passengers of all. They literally let life pass them by.)

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.

Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers… requiring that we give the best of ourselves and leave a memory behind.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So we must live each day in the best way…love, forgive, and offer continuously the best of who we are,  it is important for us to do this because when the times comes for us to step down, and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

So until tomorrow…

I wish you a joyful journey for the coming years on your train of life. Reap success, give lots of love and be happy. More importantly, thank God for the journey!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

The on-going fight between late summer weather and early fall is  intense in the lowcountry…but we hear this weekend…fall is going to make a knock-down punch…highs in the sixties in the day and low fifties at night. Bring it on! I can hardly wait to put on a jacket!

Even the garden is torn between morning glories climbing higher in the trees while my first camellia blooms, Mr. Lincoln and other roses are about to bloom again…my last moon flower is setting up to bloom…a mixture of two seasons…in all their beauty.

My first camellia and the cutest little mushroom growing under my Ginger Shell plant

Mr. Lincoln’s bud is beautiful (left)…can hardly wait for it to open while the Jo/Colby rose bush already has one blooming and another in bud. Go Roses!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to “Getting on the Right Track”

  1. Oh my goodness! What a Godwink this morning! I was drawn into your blog by the title… And was mesmerized by all of the train references, Seeing your family photo, feeling your pain of loss, and then feeling joy when I saw the paragraph
    referencing the train story that I had sent you in January! I had forgotten all about that story and it was such a surprise when I saw it this morning in your blog! It’s a wonderful reminder that we do not go through this life alone and that the people who “board“ our train of life are our “influencers“ sent from God. You have been one of my angels since I met you in 1993 at Alston Middle! Love you Becky !


    • Becky Dingle says:

      This is a “God Wink” Lisa…a marvelous one! I always think of you now whenever I think about a train. I love this story you shared with me and obviously so many other viewers have too. You are right…in our lives we definitely have shared a seat… for part of both our journeys… and I think and hope we are both stronger for it….blessed beyond measure.


  2. Rachel Edwards says:

    I smiled when I read your blog entry today. When I worked in the library at the College of Charleston for 7 yrs I had a desk by the window. One day I wrote a poem about life being like the traffic in the street…ever changing and ever moving with detours…sudden stops…etc. The song sung my Kohnny Cash came into mind…”I hear that train a coming…coming down the tracks”…loved your family picture.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I always loved that Johnny Cash song….it was always playing across campus from one of the men’s dorms…remember walking to class singing it as loudly and badly off-key as possible…glad you brought that memory back!


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