It's not every day you'd find me happy to be asleep in a room full of new potential friends.
But this wasn’t an everyday kind of day.
As I boarded the 6:33 AM GO train last a few weeks ago for a day-trip from Hamilton to Toronto, I couldn't help but notice the sound of silence filling the train. Nobody even makes eye contact with each other, let alone speaks. People get on the train, sit across from each other, but don't say a word; Not a “Good morning!” or a “Breezy today, eh?” or a “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?”
My mind wanders at the best of times, so sitting on the densely packed yet comically silent train, left entirely to my own thoughts, I got to thinking. I thought about how early it was. I thought about how happy I was that I didn't take this train every day. I thought about asking the man across from me if he had any Grey Poupon.
And then I noticed something strange: I was in a room full of people and I wasn't socializing. Here I was, amongst dozens of polite, friendly people, but somehow, I didn't feel like chit-chatting. Of course, nobody seemed interested in chit-chatting. And maybe that was the key factor here? There seemed to be a dominant culture on this train.
I have to say, I'm not always one to just accept the dominant culture. It's not uncommon to see me trying to lighten the atmosphere at a formal event – cracking a joke, or wearing a silly hat, or cracking a joke while wearing a silly hat.
I got thinking about why I try to be a trend setter. Maybe it's because I like goofing around? Maybe it's because I'm secretly stubborn? Maybe it's because I like putting a smile on people's faces. I realized I don't ALWAYS go against the grain – I do it when I think it would serve me, or the group, well.
And so I started thinking about what I wanted on THIS train trip. Here we were, a group of thoughtful individuals who had an hour of discretionary time. We could do whatever we wanted (within the confines of the rail coach, at least). We could discuss fashion choices, or leading political figures, or fashion choices of leading political figures. The options were pretty much endless!
But I'll be honest – I was tired. And so I made my choice. Instead of joking about silly hats or discussing political figures (and their silly hats) or attempting to start a flash mob (most likely, wearing a silly hat), I followed the culture of silence on the train; I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
Sleep served me well. So well, in fact, that I had some new thoughts drift into my mind.
1. Being a trend setter is a choice, but so is being a trend follower.
2. Just because I usually choose one thing, doesn't mean it's always the best choice.
3. There's a lot to be said for balance.
Choosing to snooze had been a good decision; it balanced my life. How can you add some balance to your life this month?
December 10, 2012
"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."
When I'm not on the GO Train, I've just generally been on the go this season! I've been to China twice now, most recently as a volunteer with the Hamilton Children's Choir, who won an international competition! Very exciting... The photo shows lunch on day 1, when I got to show many choristers how to rip the heads and shells off shrimp. Check out our stories here: http://hamiltonchildrenschoir.org/category/2012-china-tour/
Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season!
If you've ever missed an issue, you can always read it in the archive here.
Formerly called "The Beanstalk", the new article series "Excited to be Here!" is an account of Joel's unique travels and wacky adventures: Life is pretty exciting when you're paying attention.
Joel Hilchey is the Founder of The Beanstalk Project. An educator and entertainer, Joel speaks at events across North America, creating social change by juggling, storytelling, and playing with mousetraps.
To book Joel, contact him by phone at 1-877-487-5635 or check him out online at www.joelhilchey.com!
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Riddle of the Month:
I'm spicy and tasty with bread or with meat, or with cheese on a sandwich that's so good to eat.
I'm refined, classy, French - I'm the Rolls-Royce of dressings, so if you can find some, then go count your blessings! What am I?