March 13, 2014

The Random Perfection in Missing a Train. ~ Caroline Southwell


I have a habit of running late.

I used to arrive late for almost everything, but after a personal development program in Malaysia a couple of years ago, I now make a point of being on time for appointments, just out of respect for other people.

However my sense of time hasn’t really improved much; I often still leave home late, and as I run for a bus or train I find myself feeling grateful that I’m a runner!

And I usually pull it off, sprinting up stairs to jump between closing doors if necessary.

So, I was running towards Homebush station this morning, I realized between panting breaths that I have become great at not being late for other people, yet this was a perfect example of me running late for myself.

It occurred to me that I did this a lot; I disrespect myself a lot by not being on time for me.

In that moment I was grateful to be running late as I realized I’d gained an awesome lesson in the process: it’s time to be on time for me. Random piece of perfection number one. But it seemed to gain the lesson, I had to miss the train. And so this morning I arrived 1 ½ minutes too late, and the train was gone.

Having trained myself to be a problem solver I immediately looked at the next train to work out how late I would be. 15 minutes, no good. Next idea: “Can I do another bus/train combination?” I asked myself as I look up Google Maps again. 17 minutes late, no good.

So, I stride towards the main road this morning thinking that I’ll pick up a cab. After all, it’s only a short trip but I now believe it’s more important to be on time than whatever the cab fare is going to cost me over and above the ticket I’d already paid for.

Within five minutes I was in a cab heading towards nearby Wareemba to check out a place I might housesit in the coming months. Having never been there before I told the cab driver I wanted to go to a cafe in nearby Five Dock and then I would just walk the rest of the trip, seeing that I was now early. Having had a broken night’s sleep due to a dog barking on and off just outside my window, I was grateful that I would now have time for a coffee before meeting this woman and her cat. More perfection. He said he had the perfect coffee shop in mind, and proceeded to drive the shortest route there.

My cab driver was a chatty man who started his questions the moment I got in the cab. “Are you a teacher?” he asked in his thick Turkish accent. I had to laugh, “What makes you think I’m a teacher?” I replied in a kind, gentle tone.

Apparently, I had the vibe of a teacher.

In between all the questions I explained that yes, I’m a teacher, though not like a classroom teacher, more a teacher about life and that I help people be happier (I never really know how to explain my work to the “random” people I meet). And so the questions continued.

In a 10 minute cab ride he’d asked my name, my star sign, what I’ve studied in order to teach, what religion I am, what I know about Islam and whether I have studied the Koran, amongst other things.

Though it would have been easy to feel intimated by the barrage of questions, I laughed instead as I  quietly keeping track of whether he’d gained enough info to look me up online after I left his vehicle.

Upon paying for my unexpected random ride, he (the pronunciation of his name continuing to escape my unpracticed Australian tongue) looked me in the eye and half-apologized for “all the questions,” claiming that he felt I had a “good vibe” and that as a “strong Gemini” he figured I could handle it. He laughed as he said “I wanted to see if I could make you angry.” I in turn laughed replying that it’s pretty hard to make me angry or offend me. I knew that his endless probing questions had simply told me about his beliefs and how he was choosing to show up in the world.

So in another beautiful lesson, delivered in the most unexpected way, I realized I have become a woman who can now have conversations with random people about their beliefs, their religion, their faith and not get upset, angry or offended the way I used to. How lovely.

And as I sat and drank what might have been the best soy iced coffee I’ve had to date, I looked at where my housesitting engagement was in relation to this random cafe where my cab driver had dropped me. I smiled again at the random perfection of how my morning had played out, as I realized I was sitting on the corner of the main road going through this part of Sydney—and the street my new housesit was on. Perfect.

Just as well I missed that train.


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Caroline Southwell