Have you ever noticed that life often has two tracks moving simultaneously? Sure, there are seasons of life that are better than others, but life is never either fully perfect or completely horrible. Our journeys are a constant balance between some great events happening during difficult times or vice versa.
I often picture railroad tracks: the train balances on each side of the track yet is in the midst of both tracks. There's no way to avoid either one of the tracks because the train will always have to be involved with both sides. Similarly, we are constantly experiencing both good and bad things in our lives. Maybe your friend just got engaged while you're going through a tough break-up. Of course, you're feeling emotional about the break-up, but you also want to be excited for your friend . . . railroad tracks.
How is it that so much good can happen amidst so much trauma?
The best answer I have right now is that's just life. I heard recently that life is 5% good times and 95% tough times. We as humans typically believe that it should be the other way around with life being 95% good, but that's really not the case. If anything, we have constant difficulties interrupted by wonderful moments of peace and happiness. We just tend to see it as the opposite since we expect life to be good a majority of the time. Recognizing that we will never have times of 100% pure happiness or 100% pure despair is a step in the right direction.
As much as we want it to be, life isn't black and white, and compartmentalization isn't healthy.
I can tell you from personal experience that compartmentalization is definitely not the answer. There are two railroad tracks that work in tandem moving through the gray area in our lives whether we know it or not. Life is meant to be one big, beautiful experience - not one with separate lives and differing personalities.
Sure, some people bring out different qualities in us, but that is totally okay and quite different from compartmentalizing.
Instead of separating parts of our lives in thousands of tiny boxes, let's learn to embrace the gray area! Rejoice in the fact that you are alive and able to experience the emotions you do. Someone recently told me that life has seasons and whether good or bad, they all come to an end. If we are constantly chasing after that "perfect" life and neglecting the more ugly parts of our lives, we aren't truly living.
What parts of your life are happening simultaneously? Maybe you're excelling in your English class but are struggling to get along with your roommate. Maybe you're celebrating the birth of your sister's newborn baby while you're mourning the loss of your grandfather. The list could go on and on.
My point is that we're always going to have good parts of our lives working with and alongside the bad parts.
I know how difficult it is to accept every aspect of your life, but think of how free you could be if you let go of trying to separate everything and embraced the emotions - laughter, tears, and everything in between. Life's too short to get caught up in a never-ending attempt to be perfect. Having the freedom to feel the validity of your conflicting emotions is quite an experience. From my own life, I can tell you that experience can be good or it can be bad. It's a strange place to be in - the polarizing emotions oftentimes fight each other, and you have to let go and see that they can work together if you allow them to.
Railroad tracks were meant to carry the tons of weight from hundreds of trains. They can surely manage conflicting emotions as long as we are willing to give in. Life is a precious gift, and we should make the most of it - railroad tracks and all.
I'd like to thank the station manager at WCIC, Dave Brooks, for lending such powerful insight that inspired this article. He is the one who gave me the wisdom to see and embrace the railroad tracks in my own life, and I hope through this article, he has done the same for you. Thank you, Dave. Forever grateful to be a part of the WCIC family.