Stop

My dream, last night, was one of those I was sad to wake up from…

We all lived in a world of routine. It was our duty to get up early everyday and take a dimly-lit underground train a single stop. We’d disembark and head off to our various “Groundhog Day”-ish lives: in mine, I was still in high school / college, and a deep anxiety about missing several math classes was eating at me. Being behind in math class and failing is a reoccurring theme in my dreams — one which I blame on a mean, overbearing teacher I once had.

Like everyone else, I was wrought with stress and wondering what I was going to do about my problems. I entered the train on a new day to hear whispers and rumors that some were bucking the system and staying on the train past the one stop we all knew. Some were eager to break away and see what would happen to them. And chatter like this went on for a couple of days, with additional instructions to wear a white shirt if you were going to go.

The talk filled me with both with fear and excitement. I was terrified that I’d be captured, killed or harmed if I passed where I was supposed to. I was scared that past the end of the line there was… nothingness — and that I’d be lost in it. Missing another day of my life would leave me even further behind with everything I had to do. I’d be disappointing people. There were so many reasons not to go. But to have… rest. To break the routine. Just those simple reasons to go seemed enough.

On the third day I ended up seated next to Japanese guy and his friend (appropriate, because it reminded me of the whole calm, spiritual lifestyle I so loved in Japan — a lifestyle forgotten in my current life) who were excited and decided on going past. I was unsure what I would do when I got on the train, but I became convinced as I listened to them. I took off my black winter coat to reveal my white shirt, I watched the doors close on what we all understood was the single stop… and I waited.

The few of us, now bonded together only through our dedication and desire to get out, said nothing — we just looked at each other occasionally — looking to see if we all shared the fear of what we were doing, speeding through blackness.

But it wasn’t long until the train started to ascend, then was surrounded by the greenest of grasses, bluest of skies and with fresh air like we’d rarely been able to breathe underground.

It slowed to a stop, and we exited the doors into a large field of rolling hills, grass as far as our eyes could see. There, thousands were gathered, all in white, sitting in lawn chairs, sharing food. A bearded old man came up to welcome us, congratulate us on our decision, and we were invited to pick and join in to any line-up of chairs. Everyone was overjoyed — people looked each other in the eye, smiled and were eager to get to know each other. Stresses didn’t matter anymore. There was no where to get to, no one to answer and no one to disappoint. There was just this glowing, white place — and the only goal was to know your neighbor and be a good friend.

The founders of this place sat in the center and held a sign which said they’d been doing this for 100 years. I knew I’d come back every year — no matter where life took me. I felt alive for the first time in ages.

As the dream ended, I was in a car with my friends. One asked if any of us had heard the rumors about what’s at the end of the train, and I about jumped through the roof with excitement to take them. Despite my explaining that it’s best reached by train, they insisted on driving there, parked across the street, and just looked at the now dwindling crowd left from afar.

“I don’t get what’s so cool about this,” one said walking away, “and I have stuff to do”. I explained it was best enjoyed by sitting down with them on the hill and getting to know each other. A couple people came with me to do that, but continued to talk about problems and miss the point. The others either mocked us or left us there, finding reasons to get back to their lives.

But this morning… I woke up energized. Finding this community felt real, and I had this desire to tell people about it. The discovery of what happens when you stop: stop giving in to your anxieties, stop your routine and just stop — even if for a moment — to really see each other.

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