Here in Chicago, we call the elevated rapid transit system the "L" train. The "L" began operations in 1892, making it the 2nd oldest rapid transit system in the USA. The "L" is operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and is the 4th largest heavy rail rapid transit system in the country. With over 750,000 passenger boardings each weekday, it is the 2nd busiest rail mass transit system in the USA. The Chicago "L" is one of only 5 rapid transit systems in the country to provide 24 hour service.
When I moved back to the city, after living out of state for many years, I decided to sell my vehicle and, for the first time in my life, rely 100% on walking and public transportation to get wherever I needed to go. I walk, take the bus, ride on the "L," use on-demand vehicle transportation, or use the Metra train. I now take the "L" almost every single day and have such an appreciation for each elevated train ride that I take.
Here are 4 things that I have learned from riding the "L":
1) Be Consistent.
The "L" is consistent. It runs all day, every day, and will usually arrive within 5 to 10 minutes, if it's not already approaching when reaching the platform. I know that, no matter which train line I take, the "L" will be there shortly and it will get me where I need to go.
Being consistent means that you demonstrate on a regular basis that you are who you say you are and you mean what you say. Be who you are by having the courage to live and speak your truth and do so every single day. If you are living in line with your true values and this has become a healthy routine, then you are being consistent.
2) Be Reliable
The "L" is reliable. Morning, noon, or evening, I can rest assured that the "L" will be there and get me safely from point a to point b. I depend on the "L" and it never lets me down. I trust that the CTA takes excellent care of their trains and believe that they are being operated by careful, competent conductors.
Being reliable means that people can count on you. Strive to be on time to all of your appointments. Make it your goal to be where you say you're going to be when you say you're going to be there, and do what you say you're going to do. In a world full of empty words, adhering to our words means so much these days.
3) Be Flexible
The "L" train does not care if you are late for your appointment. It doesn't care if your bus was late getting you to the train line. It does not even care if you made it to the platform right as it is pulling away. The "L" is on a schedule and it keeps moving, no matter what. That's what trains do. They are always on the go and, if you are not willing to plan on the possibility that you might miss the next train and don't allow extra time in your commute for waiting a few more minutes, your inflexibility will cause you much unnecessary frustration.
Being flexible is all about going with the flow and relaxing into the inevitable twists and turns of life. The only thing we can count on is change! Life is always changing and things are always evolving. We are learning and growing, so we need to be flexible and adapt in healthy ways.
4) Be Patient
If you have ever taken the "L", you know darn well that you must be patient. There is even a sign on the platform that says "Relax, the next train will be here soon!" There is always another train coming, so just breathe and trust the process. The CTA knows what it is doing and the system was designed for us, the commuters! We need to be patient as we wait for our trains, because being impatient will not make the train arrive any faster.
Being patient is said to be a virtue and I wholeheartedly agree. Each year, I learn to become more and more patient with myself, others, and life in general. I am learning that slowing down and being mindful helps keep my stress level down which, in turn, helps me stay more happy and healthy in my day to day life.
In a few days, it will be 2019, a brand new year filled with endless possibilities for new adventure. I hope that these 4 "L"essons have helped you think about the way you're riding the ride of life and have given you a new perspective to consider. Maybe now, as we embark upon a new year, it would be a good time to start incorporating more consistency, reliability, flexibility, and patience into our lives so we can better enjoy the ride!