Taking the Slow Train

Nothing reveals more about human beings than physical discomfort. Trapped in an overcrowded train with no air conditioning as it stood still on the tracks for over an hour, I realized how quickly things can turn sour when things get a little uncomfortable.

Pont d'Arc, Ardèche, France
Pont d’Arc, Ardèche, France

People shouted. The conductors hid in the safety of their locked cabinet, giving us periodic updates that said nothing. A medical emergency ensued. It was chaos for a while until one guy said he’d either call the police or see why the train hadn’t moved in an hour. I went with him. We quickly discovered all the other wagons had air conditioning. We got the conductor to make an announcement for passengers in our wagon to move elsewhere. And we decided we would cheer once the train got moving again. Another thirty minutes passed and the train moved forward. We applauded, laughed and jumped for joy. Until the train stopped again for another defect. At this point, I had already hugged the conductor, who was rather shocked by my response.

After a two hour delay, I made it back to sweet Freiburg to meet my son whose bus, by some miracle, arrived with a similar delay fifteen minutes after I did.

As the train rolled into the central train station, I told a fellow passenger that this experience had changed my perspective on Monday morning. After two weeks frolicking in the South of France, I felt a deep reluctance to return to my work life. But after realizing how good I actually have it — with clients, friends and family I deeply love — I happily returned to my every day life with renewed gratitude for cool spaces, calm surfaces and meaningful work.

Sometimes it takes the slow train to remind us of what we have. I am grateful for the experience and for the goodness of this life.

 

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