Coming home the other night, my husband and I were taking a somewhat unusual route, one that crosses train tracks. It isn’t that we never come home that way, it is just slightly unusual as we would have typically jumped on the interstate if approaching home from that direction. But we needed to stop by the bank, and we then let our new GPS direct us home with its fastest route. It does not apparently have the train schedule programmed in as part of the “traffic” it can be told to avoid in order to minimize delays.
As we approached the crossing, we both watched as the lights started flashing and the gate began to lower. My immediate reaction was to exclaim in delight, “Oh goodie, a train!” Almost simultaneously my husband sighed, “Oh darn, a train.” I immediately commented on how our initial reactions were complete opposites. He felt he needed to defend…err…explain himself. “Don’t get me wrong, I love trains. I don’t mind waiting for trains. It’s just that in my mind I was already past this; I was thinking about being home already.”
My husband’s reaction is certainly the more typical one, both specifically for train crossings but more generally for when something unexpectededly gets in our way and delays us from reaching our goal. Nobody says, “Oh goodie!” when the toner is low and you need to reprint the last twenty pages of that report. Nobody says, “Yippee” when you discover the client left out some important details which negates the last weeks worth of work.
Unexpected delays are not high on anybody’s list. But this speaks to more than just being inconvenienced or delayed. We can miss enjoying the moment because our minds are already past it and thinking about what is coming next.
This Advent season, take time to be in the moment, whatever that moment is. And if you get stuck at a train crossing, enjoy counting the cars and waving to the engineer.