It happened just a few days ago. At approximately 6:50 am, I arrived at the train station, jumped out of my car, hauled my 30 pound computer bag from the backseat, hiked up the block, and climbed six flights of stairs while trying not to let the 30 pound thing drag me back down them. Just as I made it to the top, I tripped on the last step and was forced to stop just a few feet away from the gateway to the train. There was heavy breathing, sweating, and an unbelievable struggle to stand upright and ready myself to take the next step. People looked on. I pretended not to care, but I knew I had a crazed look in my eyes. Who could blame me? This was no way to start the morning. I could hardly bear the feeling of tiny drops of sweat forming all over my body. The situation was completely unacceptable.
Then of course I heard the sounds of the train approaching. It entered the station right on time at the top of the hour, but I was fishing around for my pass to get through the gate. Finally, I yanked the pass from my bag, slapped it down on the gate pad, and ran down the escalator as fast as I could without falling. The 30 pound bag really slowed me down. By the time I made it to the platform, there was an incoherent announcement blaring over the speakers above and the last person stepping on the train. I was left standing alone. The train’s red taillights seemed to mock me and, I thought, “That’s it. I can’t do this anymore.”
Sitting on the edge of one of the train station’s many concrete benches, I thought about how often this had happened and about how ridiculous the whole thing was, especially since the next train was due in a mere 15 minutes. Still, the plain and simple fact was that I wanted to arrive at work at a certain time, and to accomplish this goal, I needed to be on the train that I’d just missed. But I wasn’t, and there was nothing for me to do except wait on the next one.
I suppose a case can be made that running up a block, up six flights of stairs, and then down an escalator with a 30 pound bag is not so bad or is great exercise, but I know better. I know my body. This isn’t the purposeful workout that I decide to do at the gym. When I hear the train approaching while I’m still trying to make my way to the platform, I become anxious and tense. Running under these conditions is not something I’m willing to do anymore. It’s too stressful, so I’ve been considering my options.
Wake up earlier. This isn’t going to happen since I already wake up at 5:00 am. I really need more sleep, so I can’t even consider an earlier start to my day.
Simplify my morning routine. This sounds good in theory, but my morning routine has become ritual. Any change might rock the core of my being. No can do.
Go to bed earlier. This seems reasonable, but I might as well be honest and acknowledge that I can’t commit to do this each day. After work, there’s the workout, dinner, homework with the children, chatting with the husband, my own pastimes and whatever other odds and ends that life brings to the table. I’m doing great if I lay down by 10:00 pm each night.
Lighten my load. Now here’s something I can do immediately. There’s no real reason why I need to carry so much stuff to work. A laptop, Kindle, Galaxy, iPod, mini recorder, journal, small purse, heels, umbrella, chargers, lunch, medicines, water, and a magazine seem like essentials to me, but I concede that I need to cut back.
Choose not to run. This is the simplest solution, but it means I’ll have to resist the urge to hurry and alter my thoughts to prevent stress. The thing is that I’ve made a habit of rushing. I’ve even been known to run down the hall at work if I’m late for a meeting. Terrible, I know. Just the thought of it makes me crazy. I know I’ve got to stop. Sometimes, even when I’m sitting with the intent to rest, my mind runs. This running thing is truly out of control. Nevertheless, the choice not to run is mine.
So beginning this week, I’ll pack less in my computer bag, and there will be no more running under duress. Honestly, this doesn’t seem like much right now, but making a couple of changes will at least get me started.
I remember reading somewhere that small changes can lead to big results. I sure hope it’s true.