Impenetrable: A Short Story


That’s what the thought was, the thought I had that morning while riding on the train.

Actually, I don’t know if it was in the morning. I think it could have been in the evening.

I don’t even know what year it was. I don’t know what direction I was going in. But I remember thinking that thought.

And I know what train I was on. The Long Island Rail Road.

Sitting alone, staring out the window.

Playing music is the only thing that makes sense for your life. That’s what was in my head.

An impenetrable thought. Why was it the only thing that I should be doing?

No idea at all. Nothing beyond the thought. No emotional explanation. No supporting ideas about the place of music in my life. No connections to my personality, to my character, to my emotional makeup. To any desire to reach any particular goal in music.

Just the naked thought, stripped away from everything else.

More that I remember: Finding the isolation of that conclusion to be puzzling, disturbing, disconcerting. And I couldn’t trace it as a conclusion to an accessible string of thoughts. It stood alone. Why had it popped into my head apparently unsummoned?

And now, looking back at that moment, I still can’t grasp how that rumination over what to do with my life forms part of a larger story. It stands disconnected from other events, thoughts, emotions, people, encounters, changes, journeys – sitting alone on a train full of strangers, one lonely idea occupying my attention for a few minutes. In my memory of that moment, the thought arrives from seemingly nowhere.

What it does say to me now: It reveals the reality that no matter how I try to come to grips with a present day purpose in my life, a meaningful examination of what I do today, I have to suspect that any new realization I come to may also be truncated, abbreviated, limited in some way.

And perhaps it will be limited in a manner I can’t grasp, can’t even make out. In a way that’s hidden even as it traps me, the way that thought did then, when it entered my thoughts as I looked out that train window.


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