My fellowship is an everyday journey with Chicago “L” (short for elevated) – Blue Line. It has been a reliable rapid transit system that brings me to new places and experiences and offers some respite of a safe journey back to my home after a long day. The “L” is considered the fourth – largest rapid transit system in the United States and the second-busiest rail mass transit system, after the New York City Subway. The “L” has a notable place in Chicago’s history with some of the L’s oldest sections operating since 1892 and has been credited with fostering the growth of Chicago. The “L” consists of seven other remarkable lines – of red, orange, green, pink, purple, and brown – which are laid out in a spoke-hub distribution paradigm towards the Loop. In 2005 it was voted as one of the “seven wonders of Chicago”.
My everyday journey with the “L” is not just about utilizing the train as my means of transportation. The “L” is also everyday learning about life. Here are the top 3 learnings I always go back to whenever I ride the train:
- Efficiency. When the “L” trains arrive and leave on time, I can get to my destination at the hour that I ought to be. Efficiency plays a very big role in this – the rectangular shaped electronic board provides the exact time train is expected to arrive and it’s never kidding me. If it’s delayed the monitor will show me, and the PA system will tell me “why”. As a passenger, I am informed and never left out of any information so I can decide whether how I want to spend the next minute. When riding the “L”, there is no other time except what is “now”.
- Productivity. When I board the train in the morning, afternoon or any time of the day, I always see people on their books or on their gadget-“reading a book” and some are glued to their phones tinkering for music, videos, photos or posts. Some are catching up with their companion – in-person or virtually, while others are catching up with their sleep. My 30 minutes or so on the train with the other passengers. When riding the “L”, there is no other way but “to do it”.
- Fortitude. When I get on board and no seats are available, I stand side by side with the strong women and women who hurdles through fast-moving train all the way to their destination. Sometimes the intensity the comes along the rapidness unnerves me – afraid to lose my balance while managing to be “productive”. Sometimes, I’m tempted to get off the train to wait for the next while I cross my fingers for more seats. Then I flinch back to reality and ask myself, “…but what about efficiency”.
The Blue line is the second busiest of all the “L” trains. It’s a metaphor for my everyday life. Like the Blue Line, my every day needs a train stop to see the silver lining that comes with it.