The 8am train.
The story I am about ti tell you is based off a conversation that I had with a gentle man while I was taking the train to work. I had noticed that he was carrying some religious material and when I asked him about it he said that he had just got out of a Christian conference. He told me that he was a devout Christian and that he thought that his religion was the only right one and that every other religion was a by product of the devil trying to mislead gods children. I asked him what he thought about the idea that someone in another faith believed just as strong in their god as he did in his and he responded with “That is not possible because my god is the one and only”. This gentle man did not seem ill intended, but when someone says to me that their god is the one and only to me it sounds like they are saying if you don’t believe in the same things I believe in then you are wrong and therefore won’t have the same blessings as I will have. I wanted to write a post about my views on religion and what it means to live a happy and full life. However, I thought about it over and over again and the only way that I think I could express my opinion is through telling a story that I create. So here we go and I hope you enjoy.
Every morning is the same boring ritual for me. I wake up at 7:30am, brush my teeth, eat my oatmeal, drink my coffee before heading out to catch the train to work. I work as a financial adviser for a large bank in the down town area just passed the river valley. To put it simple my job consist of people paying me to show them how to get out of debt. Sound like a bit of an oxymoron? That’s because it is.
Every morning I catch the train at the same time and sit in the same seat. I plug in my headphones and tune out the rest of the world by entering my own. And every morning I see the same old man staring out the window. But today was different somehow, today someone sat in my seat.
I got on the train to find that a group of university students had got on the bus as was occupying the area that I normally sit. The only seat that was available was right next to the man who always looked out the window. I sat next to him without saying a word. He acknowledge that I had sat beside him and then continued to look out the window.
There are three gentle men in front of me. One of them is standing while the other two are sitting and having a polite conversation. At first I don’t pay much attention to what it was they are saying but then they started to talk about something that I find interesting; Religion. One of the sitting men is Arabic and is a follower of the Muslim faith. The gentle man next to him is a born again Christian and the gentle man standing, who was not originally involved in the conversation, announced himself as agnostic atheist. The three men both seem very smart and judging by their appearance very successful. The three men start to disagree with each other on what happens when we die.
The Muslim man believes that when he dies he will be will Allah. He believes this because he follows the word of Muhamad as read in the holy book the Quran. The Christian man believes that he will be with Jehovah because he follows the word of Jesus as written in the holy book the Bible. And the Atheist simple states that there is no evidence to support the idea of an after life.
The argument gets more heated as all three parties try to defend their reasons to believing what happens when they die. They both seem equally certain that they have the answer that the other two do not. Why can’t they agree to disagree? I turned to the man sitting next to me and ask him what his thoughts are.
“You hear this argument? Who do you think is right?” I asked the man, He turns to me and says.
I think all three of these men died a long time ago”. And then he looked back to the window.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“Shhhhhh! Look out the window or you will miss it”. I looked out the window to see that we where now making our way across the river valley. The morning sun was just starting to rise giving the river and the valley an orange glow. It was a very beautiful site.
“It’s very beautiful” I told the man. After we passed the river the train went underground and the beautiful naturalistic view turned into a gloomy man made concrete tube.
“Did those men see the sun rise?” asked the old man. In those few seconds I had almost forgotten about the three men arguing. When I looked a head I saw that the three men where still trying to convince the other that they where right about what happens to use when we die.
“No I think they where busy trying to prove why their views are the best.” I replied.
“Life is like a train ride”. The man said. “It is like a journey of discovery and beauty. But like all train rides there is a time when it is your turn to get off. So the question here is are you going to enjoy the view along the way or are you going to choose not to look out the window?”.
“wow I never thought about it like that, that’s um pretty deep”. I replied.
“Sometimes we become so focused on ourselves and our ambitions that we forget to marvel at all this life has to offer. By the time it is our turn to get off we would have let life pass us by. However, these men where so focused on the notion of dying that they forgot to sit back and enjoy the view”.
“So then do you think that all of creation was created by some being? If so which faith is the right one?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you that, only you know what is the right faith for you. Let me ask you this. If I where to tell you that us meeting was the will of a divine creator. Wouldn’t it be marvellous?”.
“Yeah that would be pretty cool I suppose”. I replied.
“Well what if I told you the world was completely random and that nothing was predestined; but out of the millions of possibilities you and I met at this time and this moment to have a discussion that you and I quite clearly need to have. Would that not also be marvellous?”
“Yes I suppose that would still be pretty cool”. I responded
“Well then how about we accept that regardless if us meeting was predestined or random that it is wonderful to be here alive in this moment. And while we are at it lets accept that regardless if you believe that the world and all it’s glory came into existence by a set of random events or by the will of the divine that the world is no more or no less amazing. We have one life that we know for sure we have and it is a gift. Lets not waist it”.
I thanked the man for the conversation before getting of at my stop. It’s strange though, I never saw the man again after that day. Maybe he takes a different train now or maybe it was finally his turn to get off. But I will never forget what the man thought me. Life is like a train, we all have to get off at one point or another. And whether or not you believe that there is life after death, you should take the time to marvel at the gift you have been given. The gift of life.
Thank you for reading.
The 8am train.