Friday, March 19, 2010

Ann Landers - The Station

One of my favorite articles of all times. I would read Ann Landers every single day in the newspaper as a young adult. One day this was in her column, and to this day I still have it posted on my refrigerator. I often think of this when my plans get too lofty for the future. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.Dear Ann Landers: In July of 1985 my wife was diagnosed as having terminal cancer. Shortly afterward, your column on the Station by R. J. Hastings appeared in Newsday.

For years, we had talked of "someday" going to Paris, a city I fell in love with as a GI. The day after I read the poem, I realized that it was time to pull into the "station".

As soon as the doctor OK'd the trip, we went to Paris and had the most beautiful vacation of our 43 years. My lovely wife passed away a year and half after the diagnosis.

I have since taken the liberty of passing copies of that column to friends. One purchased his "someday" car, another went on a long-delayed trip. But it can also mean visiting a sick friend - and that "someday" should be now.

There is so much hurt in looking back and remembering those things we intended to do and didn't.

Thank you, Ann Landers, for Paris - Irv Gaiptman, Plainview, N.Y.

Dear Irv: You were dear to let me know what "The Station" meant to your life. Here it is for all the others who haven't as yet learned that lesson:

The Station
by Robert J. Hastings

Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering - waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

"When we reach the station, that will be it!" we cry. "When I'm 18." "When I buy a new 450SL Mercedes Benz!" "When I put the last kid through college." "When I have paid off the mortgage!" "When I get a promotion." "When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.

"Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Palm 118:24: "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.

So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.

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