When we travel, my husband and I have a plan in case we get separated: the one left behind stays where they are and the other comes back to find them. We have this plan because we do a lot of train and subway travel and do not have cell phones. We have never had to use our plan, until our last vacation.
After 18 hours of travel, we were boarding out last train of that trip. It was chaotic, and one of our bags got misplaced. It contained all our photography equipment and a computer. For us, a big part of vacation is the joy of taking photos.
We searched the train 3 times together and separately; our bag was no where to be found. We did not know if it had been stolen.
This was a heart breaking blow. When the train arrived, I suggested that my husband go back in the train for one more look.
Very soon after he entered the train, a bell rang and the doors closed. I assumed he could open the door and disembark. The train began to move and my husband was on the train…locked in.
I ran down the train track toward the station attendant, pointing and yelling, “My husband is on the train!”, feeling sure there was something she would be able do. Instead, she shrugged her shoulder and said, “You’re in luck. The next station is only 20 minutes away. He will be back.”
I was astonished! I was standing on the platform, alone, unable to speak the language, with no local currency, watching the train recede in the distance.
This was the reason we have the plan. I knew he would be back, but at that moment, it was not comforting; I was alone.
My husband did return and to our delight, he found the case with our camera equipment. We moved on and had a wonderful vacation, full of beautiful sights and lots of photographs.
There are some important life lessons to be learned from the experience of being left at the station:
- Have a plan. Because we had discussed this ahead of time, we both knew what to do without thinking. It gave me a moment to pause.
- Stay calm. Having a plan helped me stay calm (after the initial shock and panic) since I knew my husband would return.
- Ask for help. In my situation, the problem could not be solved immediately, but asking questions provided very valuable information. On the train, my husband was helped by a man who directed him back to the correct station.
- Take inventory. In the moment, I went down my list of basic needs and my resources. I was safe, I had a snack if I needed it, I had shelter, and I had a credit card if I needed money. With my basic needs met, there was no need for anxiety.
- Talk to yourself. I was in a situation where all I had was myself. I could not text, call or email. I couldn’t speak the language so there was no one with whom I could talk. Although I knew he would be back I was still pretty shaken. The Harsh Inner Critic and the Voice of Doom and Gloom wanted to have a conversation. Instead, I reassured myself that all was well and the situation would be resolved.
- Find some humor in the situation. When I travel, I know something will go wrong: plans will be interrupted, or there will be disappointments. I have an attitude of “ this will make a great story.” Rather than think about how awful the situation was and predict a negative outcome, I began to imagine being home and telling this story to my friends. I had to smile to myself, because it really is a great story.
Life can be an interesting adventure if we can handle our fear and disappointment in ways that reassure ourselves. Have you had an event occur in your life that you can rewrite into a great story?
I can help you change your life from a scared and disappointing journey into an interesting adventure. Call me at: 919-881-2001.