I missed a train today. I allowed an extra 20 minutes to get to the train, but I still missed it. A train that was to take me to visit a train station.
A tube train from Canary Wharf to London Bridge was running fine, with no warnings of impending calamities ahead. Change at London Bridge for the Northern Line, and the display indicator showed lots of trains running normally. Tube train pulls in, and stays there.
An announcement from the driver that there are severe delays on the Northern Line.
I need to get to Euston. I have 30 minutes. Do I backtrack to the Jubilee then take the long way around? Nope, whichever route taken will wipe out the allowance I make for delays – better to wait it out.
Do I stand there sighing and glancing upwards in exasperation as the unseen God of Signals caused a miracle? Do I tut loudly and keep glancing at my watch in the expectation that these actions will cause repairs to be undertaken any faster.
I used to panic about being late, and get stressed about it – but no more.
Panicking, sighing, tutting, moaning wont change whatever caused the delay in the first place. I am going to be late. I can either stress myself pointlessly, or I can achieve zen-like calmness about the situation and simply accept that lateness will occur.
Fretting about being late wont change the situation, it will just mean I arrive in a stressed out state. Better to simply relax and accept the consequences of being late.
I can most certainly be damn annoyed that the Jubilee Line driver didn’t warn people of severe delays on the other line – which would have enabled me to plot an alternative route without eating into my “delay allowance”. But that didn’t happen.
I arrived at Euston Station and got to the ticket machine with 30 seconds to spare. It wasn’t enough. The train to more exotic locations departed without me.
However, in all this angst, it was a shake-up of the daily monotony that is the average life. Yes things go wrong and that is annoying, but they also shake us out of the routine. They cause is to momentarily rethink routes and plot alternatives. Some of us stress, or relax. Our brains are challenged to think about something different for a moment.
Our brains are remarkably flexible, but that flexibility is in large part enhanced by having a wide range of experiences, and it makes us better thinkers as a result. Holidays are good – but delays have a similar effect in forcing the brain out of its soporific routine.
As frustrating they are, our brain’s ability to be flexible and work around problems are ever so slightly boosted by these challenges to daily monotony. I missed a train today, but in the process, the inevitable onset of dementia in a couple of decades time just got pushed back by a few days.
It was a good morning.