I took this picture while out on a run about a week ago and I think it’s one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken.
I had gone for a run at the Terrora Day Use Area, part of Tallulah Gorge State Park, after dropping my three oldest kids off at school. There’s a point along Terrora Circle where a small branch of Tallulah Falls Lake passes under a bridge and from that bridge you get an unobstructed view of the lake and four old train trestle support piers.
The lake was still, the sun was out, the sky was clear, and I was so struck by the wild beauty of the lake and woods contrasted against the slow decay of the train trestle support piers that I had to stop mid-run, dig my phone out, and take a picture before continuing on my way.
It was one of those moments where I knew I was surveying a special moment and when I look at the picture I’m carried back to that moment and feeling.
Every Trestle Will Fall
When I look at this picture I’m reminded that our best designs and most impressive feats will all fall under the relentless onslaught of time. At one point, the train trestle across Tallulah Falls Lake was a bold example of all that man can accomplish as passengers and freight traveled across the north Georgia mountains. Today the trestle is a reminder that all of our proudest accomplishments will fade and decay sooner than we realize.
There are lots of ways to respond to this realization. Some might despair at the pointlessness of it all, try to explain it away, or ignore reality and distract themselves from thinking about it too much.
I think a better approach is to just accept it for what it is. Our experience of time is limited and the clock is ticking. Whatever great and ambitious thing we’re each chasing is just one more train trestle that will one day fall back into the lake.
If all great accomplishments will fade, I want to live my life accordingly. I want to make the most of the time I have: go for that run, have that conversation I know I need to have, stop work on time and shoot some basketball with my kids in the driveway. And, yes, I’ll still build that trestle. But, recognizing that every trestle will one day fall back into the lake, I’m not going to let the trestle call the shots.