Saturday, October 9, 2010

On Track

Today I was waiting for the R subway as usual in Times Square. As the slight, warm, warning breeze of a coming train stirred, I edged closer to the platform, looking in to spot a confirmation. Yes! There it is. The light at the beginning of the tunnel.

For non-New Yorkers reading this post, the way you identify a train is by: 1) The Letter or Number visible on the front of the train and on its windows 2) The color of the circle surrounding that letter or number.

As soon as the train surfaced into light I noticed that instead of seeing my anticipated yellow circle with the letter "R," I saw a blue circle with the letter "H." I never heard of an "H" train. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Then I saw a quick glimpse of my familiar "R" on the window of another car. Then I saw an upside-down "N," and then I saw an "M". These are all signs on the same train, just on different cars.

The train passed the station, not stopping. "Out of service," said the voice of Times Square.

Hmmm. That train seemed confused, I thought. That must be why it's not in service.

Ding! ding! ding! This thought would make a great blog post.

So here it a.m. AHA translation of all those signs:

If you feel confused about who you are or are just having an off/disorienting day, do something to be of service to someone or something. Helping others is what makes you feel purposeful, reminding you why YOU matter.

For example, the fastest way to snap myself out of a spiraling negative mess is to give someone else a lift. It can be small - like giving a stranger a compliment, offering my seat to an older person, or listening to a friend who wants to be heard. Also, realizing others are in need doesn't make me feel so lonely in whatever I'm experiencing.

The reason why this works for me, for others, and I bet you, too, is because we're literally wired to help one another. If you do it enough, on a regular basis, there's actually something called the "helper's high" which has similar effects to a "runner's high" in the body.

Sometimes we can't avoid the sensation of not knowing where we're going, of being too many things, and perhaps, sometimes we might even miss our stop. But the opportunity to be in-service is always in your control.


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