The Next Time Your Train Catches on Fire

I’m a pessimist in the worst of times. And I’m a pessimist in the best of times. I don’t know; I just can’t help but see the negative side and err on it. 

I mean, I’m not really a half empty kind of pessimist. I’m more like “that guy probably has a knife and he’s probably here to kill me” when I’m in the self checkout line at Target pessimist. 

But today, I experienced something a bit different. You see, I was evacuated from my train home because it was on fire. Yeah, you can read that again. I’ll wait. 

So, a whole train of people were evacuated onto a street in the freezing cold winter air, coughing from the smoke. And when we came above ground, we realized we were not exactly in the best part of a city that’s not exactly (or at all) the best. 

But something came over me. Instead of freaking out and giving into the tears pressing behind my eyes at being in a place alone and not being sure how to leave it, I started to take stock. I had gloves and a hat to help against the cold. And my phone was charged, so I could make any number of calls to get me out of here. 

I guess in emergency situations, after your mind does the freaking out part, you have no choice but to look on the bright side of things. It’s what keeps you sane. 

And maybe, this blog is really rubbing off on me. Maybe I am really learning to look on the bright side. Maybe I’m a born again optimist, or I’ll be there someday. Or maybe I’m just wayyyyyy too used to our country’s transportation systems and dealing with crises. 

The point is that the next time your train is on fire, try to find a silver lining. Because chances are it can’t get much worse. And if it can, there’s always something to be hopeful about. 

Fully Full

I don’t think anyone would say that they are intentionally ungrateful. I’m not sure I’d have much respect for someone who says, “Yeah, I like my warm bed at night,┬ábut I’m not really living until I can make it vibrate with a touch of a remote,” anyway. But it happens (not the vibrating bed thing, the ungratefulness thing).

We forget how lucky we are to have food on our table, electricity and running water in our houses, and most importantly for some, internet access so that we can talk to the rest of the world. Sometimes we just get caught up in what we should have and we forget about what we do have. Like I said, it happens–and it happens to the best of us.

But why?

I have a theory. You know that half full/half empty/optimist/pessimist glass of water metaphor? Well, I’d like to extend that idea. I think everyone is given a cup when they’re born. We gain and lose a lot of liquid from our cups. The more we give and do for others, the more we drain that cup. And that’s alright.

Unless we don’t leave any for ourselves, any liquid to hydrate with, any warmth to soak up through that cup. That’s when we get frustrated and stressed. That’s when we get a little ungrateful. Because we’re giving and giving, and then we have nothing left. And we can’t see half full/half empty because we see nothing.

Then, when the cups are full, we notice that, too. We notice the weight, we notice the warmth it gives us. We are more likely to be grateful for what we have when we can readily see it.

The problem is then really simple: we need to be grateful when our cups aren’t so full. When we don’t have much left, and what we have left is going to be given away. But how?

Of course,┬áthat’s where I get stuck a lot, and I don’t have all the answers. But I think I figured out a solution: when we have nothing left, when we’re not fully full, we have to be grateful for the cup, which in case you got confused earlier, is quite simply, the fact that you are alive. So, if you have nothing to put in your cup, just be thankful for the fact that someday you will. Because the capacity to be grateful is all you need to be so.