Most of my life I’ve wanted to be a morning person – the girl who skips to the gym at 5 am, writes 20 pages of the novel post-shower and creates value for America’s shareholders between 9 and 7 – before finishing a DIY project, heading to bed and starting all over again. (It’s true, I swear: I once had a boss who suggested ‘creating value for shareholders’ needed to be my primary motivation. I laughed and suggested he dig deeper into his bag of motivation manuals to find another way to get me fired up. ) My point here is my body is wired for a slow, tranquil start — think 9 am train, first call at 10.
Suddenly, because of a job, I’m up at 5:30 and living a commuter’s life a few days a week, something I never wanted to do. To survive, I’m trying to reconnect to my fantasy of early morning productivity and found writing time. So far, so good. Surprise, surprise — I like the early morning light.
Close to dawn, Brooklyn streets are almost quiet. The few people I meet on my way to the subway respond to my smiles; and I’ve guided more than one fellow traveler over a narrow sliver of cleared sidewalk this winter. I thank the folks who are up and shoveling — they groan, but laugh. As March roared in with its titanic-sized bad attitude, this delicate early morning light is a reminder spring is creeping closer every day. At this hour, the subway is populated by New York’s workers – and we’re a companionable, if tired, collection of souls. Together we sleep, make extra space so others can sit, read, and meditate.
Once I’m up, and moving through one city to get to another one, I fall into a grove of moving meditation. I’m learning commuter travel is an exercise in giving up our illusions of control – trains are late, subways stop, snow arrives or it doesn’t; we get where we’re going on time and on schedule, or we don’t — but we do get there. Calm is only possible when I surrender.
Everything in my life these days seems bent on reminding me that unrest and frustration feed off our dreams of control. Control is an illusion, a false Oz of a master — that’s a motivational mantra I can actually work with. Say it with me: Onward into the mess, the pleasure, the unknown. A late or delayed train is a gift of unscheduled time.
A smart girl would grab that jewel and run with it.