Two Lessons From The Train

I just made my train, and as I am sitting here waiting for it to pull out of the station, I glance out the window at the train next to me. Good, we are moving, I think to myself as the cars on the other train start to blur.

Then I realize it is an illusion. It is the other train that is moving. My train is still sitting in the same spot at the station.

It is a classic mistake, which we can easily be fooled by. We think we are moving, until the train next to us is gone, and we are left standing in the same place, wondering.

Sitting inside the train, our perspective is limited. And can create illusions.

It occurs to me that in our lives we can often be too much inside of something to see what is actually going on. We can be too much in our own heads, and in our own situations, to know for sure if we are moving – let alone moving in the right direction.

And as I consider this, I watch people on the train with their cell phones. Most of them are texting. But, those who are talking invariably start the conversation with something like, “Can you hear me ok?”

We know that the signal strength is limited while sitting on the train, especially once it starts moving. There will be periods of strong signals and periods of dropped calls. So, with the anticipation of a technical glitch, we naturally ask if our connection is ok.

It is rare, however, that we confirm our connection in our regular conversations.

This strikes me as something worth considering more carefully.

We might all benefit from asking the question “Can you hear me ok?” more often. Not in terms of technical quality, but to first check in and see if the other person is really available. “Is this a good time for you? Are you free to share your thoughts and feelings now?” “Will I have all, half, or just a sliver of your attention?” “Would there be a better time for us to connect?”

Taking a moment to test our connections can help us to better understand – and to be more fully understood.

I notice another train pull in next to mine. And, finally, my train is starting to move. Or is it?