And I think that’s a good thing. You see, I had a bit of an unexpected adventure/detour getting to the airport this morning and it made me think. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
In order to catch today’s 8:35 flight to London, I left the house at 7:00, took the metro to Centraal Station, bought my train ticket and made my way onto the platform. As I entered the station I noticed that none of the screens usually displaying the train and platform information were working. I figured it was just a computer glitch and kept going. The further I walked, the more screens were blank yet I proceeded. After a moment on the platform an announcement came over the loudspeaker first in Dutch followed by English. Due to a technical issue no trains were arriving into or departing from the station. Back downstairs and out the station I went, now noticing all of the station employees standing around answering questions. (I really need to open my eyes sometimes.)
At this point it was 7:20, just over an hour before my flight would leave. Rather than taking the metro to another station then catching a train, I decided to take a taxi directly to Schiphol. As I approached the taxi stand I saw a familiar face, said hello and ended up having a partner for the ride. We’ll call it my contribution to saving on carbon emission for the day, though that effort was more than negated by the fact that I took an airplane to work. Anyway… We got in the taxi and were off to the airport chatting away. I looked at my watch a couple of times, but figured there wasn’t much I could do at this point. I’d make my flight or I wouldn’t. Worst case, I get the next flight out and move some meetings around. Not the end of the world.
We pulled up to the airport around 7:45. Rather than frantically rushing and running to my gate, I walked at my usual clip through passport control then into the main terminal to find that (at least according to the board which has been wrong in the past) my flight was not yet boarding. Of course it was the absolute farthest gate from where I stood at that moment. I turned and walked at the same pace to my gate still thinking “Eh, I’ll make it or I won’t.”
Now 8:00 I neared the end of that long stretch to the gate only to find an almost equally long line of passengers waiting to go through the security check. Not only was I not the last person to get to the gate this morning, but as late as I thought I was, they hadn’t even let passengers through when I arrived. There I stood, behind all those other people thankful that I hadn’t stressed or freaked out over the minor challenges and delays
It was while settled into my seat on the plane that I realized I had two options today. I could have frantically rushed off the platform running to catch a cab, checking my watch every few minutes, asking the driver to hurry, running to my gate and probably pissing off everyone I passed along the way. Or, I could take it all in stride and let the cards fall where they may. Missing a flight wasn’t going to be the end of the world this morning. Even with meetings scheduled, I knew that people would understand and we would rearrange things. It wasn’t worth the energy or effort to get stressed out or worry and the thought hadn’t even occurred to me. That’s when I realized that Europe is getting to me. In a good way.
I don’t feel the need to rush everywhere, to push my way through a crowd, to honk a horn (or ring my bell) at someone moving slowly in front of me. I’m currently moving through life at Dutch speed. Things will happen when they happen, they don’t need to be forced or rushed. Sure it’s a proud feeling to be at the front of the line or to arrive somewhere first, but it’s much more relaxing to get there with the rest of the pack, heart beating at a resting pace, feeling calm and peaceful. There are a lot of things I love and miss about the U.S. but the frantic way of life is not one of them. Thank you Europe. Here’s hoping that no matter where I find myself next year, in 5 years, in 10 years, I remember this feeling and these words.