I was in my early 20s, out late one October evening in rural Indiana with my dog, Chokma, an 80# shepherd mix, and a close friend, Dale.

Dale was working as a journalist on a Hoosier newspaper and decided to run a story on a local legend, the Headless Switchman, around Halloween.

At the time I had a big head of dark brown hair. Dale’s thinking was a photo of me at night from behind would give the appearance of being headless. So the three of us set out to the train tracks after dark, me with a switchman’s lantern.

After the photoshoot, we walked along the tracks and into a tunnel. About halfway through we heard an approaching train. I called Chokma and grabbed his collar to hold him close as we rushed to get through the tunnel before the train caught up to us. We were no match for its speed. We flattened ourselves against the tunnel wall as the onrushing locomotive bore down on us, whistle blowing hard.

I cannot express the size and power of a rushing train at such a close distance. We were likely a good six feet away, but with a solid wall behind us and nowhere to go it felt as though we were only inches from the massive machine.

I remember holding Chokma as tight as I could in case he tried to bolt. He did not. For a good ten minutes, everything else in our lives disappeared as we were swallowed by the noise, the steel, and the sheer power.

When it was over we were full of adrenalin and happy to be alive. It was plenty of exhilaration for one night.

Dale stayed up all night in his photo lab and the next morning I was on the front page, seen from behind, waving my lantern in headless glory.

For the week ahead, take life head-on as the unexpected comes your way!


“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” – Paulo Coelho