That is how I felt yesterday, traveling to Amsterdam for a training. I had to commute for 45 minutes by train and metro, using the busiest commuting lines during the morning hours, changing trains at the city center's financial hub station, Amsterdam Zuid (South). People were rushing by, on their way to work, dressed in corporate suits and high heels, using laptops and phones on the train. Almost nobody made eye contact or looked out of the window.
I had to wait on a platform and suddenly I had this strange feeling of being in a movie. People around me were fading into sliding lines. I saw myself, standing like a soft pillar of peace and silence between movement and rushing energy, conscious of my surroundings and looking up close from a distance.
I suddenly felt like an Englishman in New York.
I speak the language very well. I have lived a similar life myself, traveling by train for years and years, day after day to the same station, studying, working 80 hours a week in the hospital. Moving to another job, the rat race, driving in busy traffic, rushing to the next meeting, making the next deadline.
Suddenly, standing still in the midst of it all, on the platform, I saw the emptiness of it all. The unconscious movement, sounds, flow of data, people, information, all rushing towards the same deadline. The end of life (because, you know, that's the only deadline everyone will eventually make).
Thinking about all these people and being conscious of their lives (they must have family, friends, struggles, challenges, homes, household chores and groceries to do), I realized that it is so important to live the life you love. The possibility that all those people rushing by might not be happy with what they do, caused an overwhelming sadness to take a hold of me.
How can we be more aware of what we are doing? Why are we running so fast? How can we be more mindful of our day?
The simple answer is: PAUSE.
Take a break from your work and breathe deeply, feel into your body, look out the window every now and then (preferably often). Take the next train. Don't 'grab' a coffee but truly enjoy it. Go outside during your lunch break and find a park. Sit on a bench for 5 minutes and watch your surroundings. Connect with someone.
Don't make pausing another task in your busy schedule. Pause, to be mindful and to feel. It helps you make better decisions. And maybe you'll discover that you too are an Englishman in New York.