Friday, December 10, 2010

wait or jump?

I was walking down the stairs of the metro station one day this week to catch the subway downtown. As I neared the bottom of the stairs, the warning set of beeps started to sound, letting me know that the train that was stopped there with its doors open was about to leave. Now, I usually get on the second last car in the train because it spits me out exactly where I need to be when I get off at my final stop. I have done this trip so often that my feet automatically head in the direction of that ideally located car. However, when the beeping started, I was several cars away from where I wanted to be.

And here was the dilemma I faced: should I just hop on the less than ideal car and thereby waste a few minutes on the other end when I got off, or should I wait for the next train to come and make sure I got my usual seat on the optimal car? I made a decision, fast, and jumped on the car right in front of me just before the doors closed.

At that point, I realised that my dilemma was a fake. The point of getting on the subway was never to sit in the perfect seat in the ideal car. The point was always to get downtown to go to school and learn. Where I sat really was immaterial. How had that minor detail almost become a deciding factor in delaying my journey? I have a few ideas about how this happened. Here they are:

1. I got used to doing things the same way every time and assumed it was pretty much the only way, if I was going to do it right. When confronted with a change, I had an, "Oh, no!" moment, when in actuality, nothing was wrong. Rigidity like that is in direct conflict with learning and transformation. Not good.

2. I confused efficiency with success, and in fact, made efficiency the definition of success. That is a really bad definition.

3. I set my journey on automatic pilot instead of being attentive, aware, and alive. Two days never repeat themselves and neither do two subway rides. Let me be attentive to the uniqueness of each moment.

4. I let the goal of my journey (to get to university) become overshadowed by my desire to have a comfortable journey.
Sometimes you just have to jump on the train instead of waiting for everything to line up perfectly before you make the leap.

Tomorrow I have the opportunity to travel downtown twice. What wonders and adventures will await me each time?
This is a picture of the metro station closest to my home where I regularly jump onto trains.

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