Yesterday I had a meeting in the city at 9.00am.
This is unusual for me, as I prefer to work from cafes in the morning, and then head to the city for meetings in the afternoon.
But 9.00am it was, and the Public Transport Victoria app told me the quickest way there was by train (my normal tram would have taken me to the wrong end of the city).
So I boarded the train at Elsternwick Station, the first time I’d been on a peak hour train in, oh, I don’t know…six months? It was about half full, but quickly filled up as we approach the city. At Richmond Station, I had to switch trains.
I power walked up to platform 5, and as I stood on the platform, pressed shoulder-to-shoulder with about 300 other commuters, I thought to myself ‘I don’t miss this at all’.
The train arrived and we crammed ourselves into the carriage. Most people were dressed in all black, their faces sullen as they blankly stared at their various forms of electronic devices, earphones tightly plugged in.
Once we arrived at Melbourne Central, I moved with the mass of people off the train, up the escalators and through the ticket gates, making sure I moved at the same pace so as not to disrupt the flow.
It was only once I was out of the station in the fresh air that I could breathe freely. The peak hour train experience was claustrophobic and oppressive.
And I realised: I used to do this every single day.
The experience gave me real perspective on my lifestyle now.
My morning ‘commute’ is a 5 minute walk to a cafe. There’s no timetable, no crowds, and no delays (unless I decide to sleep in). And yes, it does take me a good 30-40 minutes to commute to the city, but it’s usually around 11am when the trams are mostly empty. Getting a seat is not a problem — and I have the space to work on my laptop.
For a while now, I’ve taken it for granted. I’d almost forgotten how soul sucking I found the peak hour train commute to be, and having a taste of it again made me grateful for my ability to choose when and where I work.
Any time you have a negative experience, instead of complaining about it, use it as ‘gratitude fuel’ to appreciate all the positives in your life.
Maybe you injure yourself and can’t run for a month. When you’re better, you’ll appreciate those morning runs so much more! Maybe you end a bad relationship. You’ll appreciate the next person’s good traits more. Or maybe you travel overseas and see people living in poverty. You’ll appreciate this fucking incredible country called Australia infinitely more.
And when you are grateful and appreciate what you have, that’s when you can start being more content, happy and fulfilled.
And your fellow peak hour commuters will wonder what the hell is wrong with you ;)