Thursday, April 29, 2010

Detours everywhere!

I left Columbus Circle and boarded the Uptown #1 train to head back into the Bronx, where I had left the car.  I was going to transfer to uptown #2 at 72nd street, then to the uptown #5 at 149th street.  I was headed home.

The train was moving slowly and finally, at 96th street, the uptown #2 was terminated.  We were told there was a police investigation at shtshrwsa (...telephone static...) street.  It looked like 1000 people disembarked the train and were standing around trying to figure out what to do.  I decided to head back downtown because I could get the uptown #5 at Grand Central Station.  2 trains later, standing on the platform waiting for the #5, we heard the announcement that there was no uptown #5 because of a fire at 149th street.  We needed to take the #4 to 149th and 3rd ave, then take a shuttle to shtshrwsa (...telephone static..).  While on the 4, the announcement came :"If you are looking for the uptown #5, take the #2 downstairs at this station and transfer..."  Like a panicked herd, all 1000 of us headed downstairs to be stopped in the middle of the stairs!  "No trains, go take the shuttle bus outside to...." Sigh.

As I walked outside, bits and pieces of the story floated to me from the conversations around "...crazy man....caught him...."  I hurried onto what looked like the shuttle bus, to the confusion of the puzzled bus driver. "Shuttle bus?"  I hurried off, not wanting to get even further from my destination.  I was going home. In the ensuing 2 hours, my phone had died and my feet hurt!  I had worn the cute shoes, confident that I would be going from my car to the subway, from the subway to the Time Warner Building, then reversing the trip.  I could stand the cute shoes for that time.  It was now 5pm, and I was 'standing' the cute shoes for close to 2 hours and was working on a meditative trance to cope with the pain.

Speaking of pain, my purse has everything in the world in it, and I didn't realize how heavy this everything got when you were standing for a while, and your feet hurt.  My shoulder was joining the complaint, as were my fingers...their circulation being cut off by the shopping bag of books I carried.

How was I feeling internally? I was in a carefully crafted state called focus.  I took deep breaths and slowed time down in my head.  I was going home and was not going to be put off by any of this.

Police officers are everywhere.  A few conversations reveal that the power will be back in 20 minutes (20 more minutes??) and the trains would then be running normally.  How normally can they run with 3000 people on the platform and 2 hours of delay?  Anyway, the story finally became clearer.  A man was running on the train tracks and the police turned off the electricity.  I watched them clear a path and bring the man out, restrained from the top of his head to his toes, on a gurney.  Immediately, we were all encouraged back into the train station.

I'll summarize the rest....We waited in the station for more than 35 minutes for the train currently in the station to leave, and finally, the train I wanted came.  I went home, and had a lovely conversation with a new friend who was sitting beside me for the last hour of the journey.  She had just had brain surgery 3 weeks before and this was her first day going about 'normal' life.  I offered her a ride from the station home.

Why did I share this with you?  Well first of all, be happy you were not anywhere in the NYC subway system that afternoon!  The series of events got me thinking about having a clear intention and not being distracted by eventualities.  Never during the afternoon did the thought that I wouldn't get back home even cross my mind.  I contemplated variation after variation on the theme of going home.  As one plan fizzled out, I tried another.  Going home was not optional.

I'm realizing that some of the goals and intentions we set are options.  If more than x obstacles come my way, oh well, that was too hard, or this school, job, business, partner wasn't meant to be....  I'm deciding to be clear with myself on the things that are optional for me, and the things I want to critically  I focus on.  Some things really are optional, and that's ok.  Sometimes I do want to change the destination to something else.  For the others, the clearly defined, critical to follow intentions,  I'm going to create the mental focus I had on that day in the subway that got me home, even though my feet and arms and shoulders really hurt and random strange events set huge detour signs to my goal.

What are you focussing on in this season of your life?  What do the detour signs look like?  Are you changing your destination because of them?  Is that what you want, or is it in response to the detour sign?

Have a wonderful, focussed day!


  1. Thanks, the last two days I've been thinking about detours... I have a dialogue scheduled for tomorrow, I might change the subject to be about my detours, since you just gave me another reminder. Thanks, thanks, thanks


  2. Really nice, Faith!

    I love the idea of not letting detours become destinations. I also love how you didn't allow the detours to MEAN anything. They weren't signs from above or below or anything that you took personally. How truly existential!



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