Sunday, January 04, 2015

Last Train to Willoughby

I stretched out on my couch Thursday morning, soaking in the beautiful winter sunlight, and journeyed into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.

Yes, this was the Syfy Channel’s annual New Year’s Twilight Zone blitz and I was happily traveling to that fifth dimension beyond which is known to man.

I’ve seen most of the episodes scores of times, but that doesn’t prevent me from unlocking that door with the key of imagination.

Twilight Zone is my comfort zone.

I caught several of the classics, including “The Howling Man,” “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” and “A Game of Pool,” arguably my favorite show of the series. The episodes often feature such notable performers as Robert Redford, William Shatner, and Jonathan Winters early in their careers.

And on this particular morning I was enjoying another gem, “A Stop at Willoughby.”

It's the story of Gart Williams, a harried New York advertising executive who can’t handle the high-pressure corporate life. Gart seemingly spends his days going from his hard-hearted boss at work to his cold-hearted wife at home.

One night on his commute to Connecticut, Gart falls asleep and wakes up to find the train has stopped in an idyllic 19th Century town called Willoughby.

This is a "peaceful, restful place, where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure.” It's a beautiful summer day, a band is playing, and kids are going off to fish.

Last Stop

As I sat in those warm, healing rays, I could see my reflection on the TV screen, as if I had melted into the episode and was free to walk around Willoughby myself.

Cue that famous theme music…

We can all sympathize with Gart’s situation—at least I know I sure as hell can, give my somewhat turbulent work history.

I often dream about my ideal spot in this world, ranging from Los Angeles to San Diego to Sydney, Australia, and several places in between. It seems to be pretty much anywhere but my current location.
The idea of escaping to a simpler, more innocent time and place is irresistible, and the world has only gotten crazier in the 55 years since the episode first aired.

It’s also impossible. Gart pays dearly when he tries to enter this Currier & Ives painting and we see that the road to Willoughby is quite literally a dead end.

Tomorrow I return to work after a four-day weekend that went by entirely too fast.

I’m also returning to my gym after a nearly two-month layoff due to medical issues that haven’t been entirely cleared up, and naturally the weather is expected to take a nasty turn.

And while I made a point of keeping my New Year’s Resolutions incredibly simple, I’m still feeling that early January pull to wipe out my to-do list before the end of the week.

Has anyone seen my fishing pole?

But that’s not the answer. I don’t intend on making any swan dives off my bus ride home. You have to work at making your dream real. Fantasy doesn’t count for much anywhere…except in the Twilight Zone.


Ron said...

Rob, you shared a boatload of truth and inspiration in this post.

True, why is it that we often think the grass is always greener and that our lives will somehow be better somewhere else? Or that if we could go back to another time, it would be the same? All we have is NOW and what we do with it.

LOVE your analogy of the Twighlight episode. Brilliant!

Great post, buddy! As usual!

Have a terrific week!

Rob K said...

Hey. Ron, how's it going?

That's the eternal question, isn't it? There seems to be no way to resist that greener patch of grass.

Now really is all we've got!

Thanks for stopping by, buddy, and do take care!

Jay said...

How true is that! There are no short cuts to anything worth having in this life. I have a motto I picked up somewhere: 'Take what you want, and pay for it'.

To me, this means that you can do whatever you want - but you will pay for it, somehow, sometime. For example, if you want to spend all your days lying on the sofa, you can do that, but only if you don't mind gradually running out of money (and possibly friends) and compromising your health. If a poor man wants a Lamborghini, he can almost certainly have one, somehow, even if only until the police catch up with him!

Rob K said...

Hey, Jay, right you are. Unless you're a one percenter, than you have to pay for everything you want in this life--either now ow most certainly later.

Now excuse me while I go hotwire a Lamborghini....

Bijoux said...

I will freely admit I've been feeling down lately. It's a combination of January and what to do with my life. Ugh.

Rob K said...

So sorry, Bijoux.

I hope things turn around for you ASAP and please remember that I've got your back, I'm in your corner, and I'm on your side!

Stephanie Faris said...

I LOVE Twilight Zone. I've seen them all. In mid-2014, I noticed they were all on Netflix and watched them again, beginning to end. I think Season 4 was missing, so I hopped over to YouTube and watched that season over there. I love to revisit them every 5-10 years or so all the way through, when I've forgotten some of them!

Rob K said...

Wow, Stephanie, you're a real fan--just like me!

And you're right--it's great to revisit the episodes and see how they still have meaning in our lives.