Commuter Tales

Commuter Tales

Lindsey M. Adler The morning commute is one of the more lackluster parts of my day, and probably yours too. Aside from checking the rail and road reports and adapting my route to reflect them, I’m in the ultimate autopilot mode. I read the latest news briefs, scan social media and email inboxes while otherwise chugging right along. Some days I’m distracted by gleeful anticipation for some item on the day’s agenda, or I might teem with anxiety over something stress inducing. Overall, the mood for the day takes effect.

Living in a city of a few millions, I enjoy the anonymity of my commutes, although familiar company can be a welcome change. It’s why the serendipity of an unexpected encounter comes as such a pleasant surprise. Just today, I was groggily scanning headlines for editorial inspiration, when a friend stepped on the train car right in front of me, cheerily bouncing to his morning soundtrack. I happen to know that this particular friend works on the same block as me and comes from the same general area that I do, so it’s not unusual that I see him, yet it was still such an uplifting surprise.

Quite honestly, I was having a downright grumpy morning due to a series of minor delays, which always seem much more terrible than they are during those morning hours. All of that was immediately flipped on its head with the presence of a familiar smile and less than a minute of dialog about upcoming social plans and respective business challenges for the day (his involved hooking up the NCAA tournament in the office as the unofficial AV guy while simultaneously trying to get work done). Suddenly, I found myself sauntering into work with a refreshed jolt to my stride and a smile on my face. I was amazed at how something so little could so radically alter my disposition for the day.

If only I could premeditate these energizing moments into my life more often. The best I can think of is being ready and willing to ride that wave of good feeling whenever it shows up. The reality is that on most days, there’s no magic bullet to lead us in the right direction. I think we’re less served by wondering if and when and why than instead, having an actionable plan in place to achieve daily goals. So much of what I do is centered on seeing the big picture—strategizing in advance—that I tend to overlook daily successes. As a result, I haven’t been pleased with my accomplishments or productivity in those smaller doses recently. As this morning’s energy wears off, and self-doubt creeps in, I remind myself that it’s these little moments that brighten our days and give that extra push needed to conquer what’s immediately at hand.