Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Train... Life-Purpose Part III

There is a civilization in which there is a belief that the train schedules and rule book were written by a great, mysterious, spiritual genius . The believers hold that making the trains run properly and abiding by the rules have enormous spiritual significance. Some rules have obvious moral significance; no pushing on the platform, no fighting on the trains, no smoking. Some reasons can not be exactly determined (after all, it is beyond the grasp of the average person) but there are many rich and beautiful theories, full of moral lessons and metaphysical symbolism. It is held that those who facilitate the train schedule and live up to the moral ideas within the rules are influencing the advancement of spirituality in the universe.

Train Driver A grew up believing that the belief was a myth. He can’t prove that it isn’t true, but it seems far more reasonable that it was written by the old train company. His own family never gave it any credence.

Train Driver B grew up believing that it was true. Although he did not claim to be able to ‘prove’ it, much time was spent explaining arguments about why it was very likely to be true. His entire family took it very seriously, and being expert in all of the details were an important part of his education.

Driver A loves his job. Each day he takes in the beauty of the landscape, he chats with the passengers, listening to their stories, appreciating the nuances of how different each their lives are and enjoying the feeling of sharing the short journey with each. The job is difficult and is often fraught with problems. He is sometimes tired, or under the weather. Sometimes he must deal with difficult passengers. Sometimes everything seems to go wrong, and the day is a struggle to get through. He does not like the problems, but he accepts them as an inherent part of doing the job which he loves. He takes pleasure in getting his customers to their destination as well as he can, and, although not everyone appreciates it, it is far from easy.

Driver B feels lucky to have his job. He spends his long hours on the job focused on the nuances of the schedule and rule book, sometimes fantasizing about the benefits which he is bringing the world. He makes a point of being polite and friendly to the passengers (as the rules provide). He makes every effort to be on time, and he reports to work even when he is not feeling well or is exhausted. There are some things which he does enjoy. He sometimes meets passengers who he likes and enjoys talking to them. He sometimes notices something nice on the countryside which he likes looking at, though he tries not to let his mind wander off of the important train rules. When things go wrong, he perseveres through with the sustaining thought of the great deed which he is doing.

One day, a document surfaces which details the human origins of the schedule and rule book. Most of the believers come to the conclusion that the new document is a fake, some ridicule it, some believe that it was planted by evil non-believers. Some believe that it is a test of faith. Most simply ignore it.

But Driver B is shaken. He looks back on his life and experiences and realizes that the theory never really made any sense. He believed it simply because it was such a strong assumption which all of his role models believed in. The more he thinks about it from ‘outside’ of his old system of thought, the more apparent it is to him that this is simply a man-made book.

Driver B seeks out driver A and they have the following conversation:

B: “I used to think that there was a great purpose in driving this train, instead of just a meaningless job.”

A: “What are you talking about? We drive through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Don’t you enjoy that?”

B: “Sure, it’s nice and all that. But seeing nice scenery isn’t important.”

A: “Well don’t you enjoy the passengers, many of them are fantastic people, and sometimes you can really connect with them.”

B: “Yes, they’re okay. I like them, and I suppose that they feel good when I’m polite to them, but just making these guys feel good isn’t really that important.”

A: “Don’t you think that it’s important to get them where they are going on time? It’s quite a challenge sometimes and you do a great job of it.”

B: “I’m not saying that it isn’t important at all, but it isn’t going to make much of a difference in the overall scope of humanity.”

A: “How about enjoyment? Don’t you love your job?”

B: “I guess that I do like it most of the time, but we don’t work because it’s fun. What does enjoying your job have to do with making it important?”


Post a Comment

<< Home