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February 22, 2007

Writing and Healing Idea #24: Deciding Who to Bring on the Train

A patient helped me discover this writing idea. She uses imagery to help manage chronic pain. And one of the images she’s found helpful recently is to imagine that she’s falling asleep on a train and as she’s falling asleep she can hear the sound of the wheels on the tracks and the sound is very soothing and she’s lying very still—on a clean soft pillow—clean sheets--and she can look outside the window at the landscape if she wants—or not—and all the time she’s being carried to a place where the pain is becoming less and less and less.

One of the things she’s discovered as this train imagery has developed is that she can decide who to bring on the train. She can decide who to have outside her compartment, riding on the train with her—and she can decide who to invite inside her compartment—and when. She can decide who she’d like to have for company. She can decide who she might want to have available if something should happen—say if the pain becomes worse.

She can bring a person along on the train, for instance, who knows about massage. She can bring a friend—or a nurse. She can bring someone who plays music. She can bring someone who knows how to listen. She can bring someone who is simply good company. She can bring along a dozen people—or one—or none. But in any case she gets to decide, in this imagery, who to bring on the train.

And it occurred to me that this image could be translated as an idea for writing.

Say that you are beginning to write. Say that you have decided to do a year of writing and healing—or a month of writing and healing—or fifteen minutes of writing and healing. Say that you imagine that as you begin this writing—this writing project—say that you are boarding a train. And say then that you get to decide who will be riding this train with you. And say that it can be anyone at all—persons living or dead—persons real or imagined—some persons perhaps that you’ve only read about in books or some persons perhaps that you’ve conjured in your imagination.

Who would you like to bring on the train?

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