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Can We Talk About How Perfectly Relevant “Stop This Train” Is As You Get Older?

Folks, for those of you who know me best, you know that the only thing in life that I love as much as sports (aside from my family and friends) is John Mayer. I’ve been to two of his shows in my adult life and they’re easily two of the top five days of my life. I’m hoping to go to multiple shows whenever he tours next so that way I can hear as much of his great music as possible played live.

Today I want to do a unique blog and it’s one that maybe I’ll make a recurring blog that dives deeper into some of my favorite music. Music is a very important piece of our society and it expresses things that we sometimes can’t put into words. When years get as hard as 2020 has been, music can be a great friend.

Recently I’ve been obsessed with John Mayer’s song “Stop This Train” and I know why but I’m not entirely sure why. For starters, it’s easily one of John Mayer’s top five songs. Everything about it is beautiful from the guitar picking method that emulates the sound of a train on the tracks and the meaningful lyrics.

We talked a lot about this song in this week’s episode of the Be Happy or Die Trying Podcast that I co-created and produce. This was easily our most heartfelt episode we made.

On top of all of this, I’m going through some life changes, exciting ones, but still changes. For the first time in my life I feel like I’m getting old. I’m 95% sure that I’ve found my first gray hair. I had to go to the chiropractor after throwing out my back playing basketball earlier this year. I even made a normal doctors appointment this year and went to it just to see if I was healthy. If that’s not old then I don’t know what  is. 

As of a few weeks ago, I’m closer to being 40 years old than I am 10 years old. It’s weird. I don’t like it. My mom lost her mom when she was 40. I don’t want to have just 15 years left with my parents if they go when I’m around that age. I want them to be around for much longer than that. But still I’m so lucky to have had the time that I’ve had with them since many of my friends have already been robbed of years with their parents.

The days of me being young and stupid feel gone which is weird but also freeing. I’m not going to be a college student ever again and Lord knows that phase of my life lasted long enough. I’m anywhere from probably 3-10 years away from getting married and starting a family of my own which is exciting but terrifying.

But thinking about what’s happened this year has really gotten to me. I feel like COVID-19 stole a good portion of the remaining youth that I had left. That probably sounds selfish to say but that’s how I feel. We’ve become so conditioned to staying inside and avoiding the human contact that some of us crave to live a full and happy life. Last week I went to a Buffalo Wild Wings to get some BOGO boneless wings and it felt like a delicacy. I used to just call that Tuesday night.

Prior to COVID, I was living a good life for being a 25 year old. Did I have everything figured out? Of course not. But I had great friends and I had some great life experiences. More were on the way but then big rona hit and I went from playing in my intramural basketball team’s championship on a Monday Night (not to brag) to moving back home 1,200 miles away by Saturday night all because of this virus. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to all my friends. I didn’t get to properly close a very important chapter of my life. 

I know a lot of people have had it worse than me so I’ll gladly take what has happened to me over losing a loved one or a friend. I also know that we can’t ignore the losses we feel in our lives because then that becomes baggage and all of us have lost something this year. I’m one of the lucky ones. I have it good.

But I still wanna stop this train. I wanna get off and go back to Michigan, maybe just for a night. Or maybe I can go back to my college days at FGCU and relive some of the incredible memories I had there with my friends I still talk with and the ones I’ve now lost touch with. I’m sure I could even find a high school memory or two that isn’t totally awful that I’d like to relive as well.

Why stop there though? 

Take me back to being in elementary school where I come home, get off the bus, and play football with my childhood friends. I still have all of my grandparents. I can still smell the crisp fall air and see the leaves of red and orange clinging onto the trees for dear life as I pretend that I’m Jeremy Shockey without a worry in the world except for how the Giants were gonna do that week. 

The thing is that I don’t want to change anything about my past. It’s all gotten me to where I’m at and I’m very proud of the person I’ve become. I just want to relive a moment or two or three  before I really am old and this train is too far gone to even think about returning to where the journey all began. 

So I’ll keep fighting to stop this train. I know that actually traveling through time or actually reliving moments would leave the best of men and women stuck in an unavoidable loop that would make them miserable. But I’d still like to try and stop it for just a little while.

But the smarter parts of my brain tell me that maybe the key to being able to learn how to take the speed that it’s moving at a little better is to just sit back and enjoy the ride for a little bit. I need to be present instead of spending 95% of my thoughts on the future and on the past. Dwelling on the past and the future does nothing to help me improve my life and the lives of the people around me today.

So maybe the best solution is to just let this train keep moving and know that the next part of this journey will be just as fun as the previous parts of my journey but just in different ways. Right now I’m stuck between squeezing what’s left out of my youth and being a steady and sturdy man. It’s a weird place to be but I’m totally here for it. Eventually I won’t find waking up at 7am for my hypothetical future kid’s t-ball game repulsive and I’ll cherish those moments of my hypothetical future kid’s youth.

Even though I haven’t come to terms with this yet, I do see that I’ll never stop this train, but I won’t forget to look out the window of it and enjoy the journey a little bit more than I have so far. I’ll be more present. I’ll put my phone down and have a conversation with the people who come and go from the compartment I’m in from time to time. I’ll remember that life is always about the journey and that the train stations have always just been illusions anyway. 

Thank you, John Mayer, for writing such a beautiful song.

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