All 2 entries tagged Chaos

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January 21, 2013

Planes, trains & automobiles

'More than 400 flights were cancelled by Heathrow Airport after bosses were forced to close a runway to de-ice it.' The news fed through to us in inconsistent segments.

Stranded in Seattle, I (along with 16 colleagues) was looking for the next best way home to London this past weekend. Stranded is an overstatement, as Seattle is not quite a deserted island. It is, however, only serviced by a single direct British Airways flight per day. Heavy snowfall caused a plane not to depart London, the same plane due to collect us or the return journey on Friday evening.

With the intention of getting home to family as soon as possible, the hunt was on to find the next available flight. Saturday was full. Sunday was available but that was too late. Like the 1987 movie, the search expanded to indirect flights, plane and train combinations and potentially even bus or driving routes.

With almost two dozen people trying to make their way home to Germany, Spain, France and the UK, what started out as a simple journey became the latest chapter of The Amazing Race... With no monetary prize! The spider web of return routes left us wandering who would make it home first, last or at all.

I joined 9 colleagues on a Seattle Chicago London route, which was surprisingly smooth, apart from waiting 45 minutes for a parking bay upon arrival at Heathrow and another 25 minutes for luggage to appear on the carousel. What amazes me is how we can be prepared to forego any convenience offered in the travel loyalty system, just to get on a flight. Shifting business class for economy, direct flights for multiple connections, in transit lounge access for hours of food court quality time all start to make sense in the greater scheme of things.

In the end, all we're trying to do is get home. And even though there's no monetary prize, the smile from an infant and the hug from a toddler when you walk through the door makes the entire experience worthwhile.


June 26, 2012

What if I hadn't missed that train?

This morning I missed a train by one minute. It was an express train, the kind where you skip a couple of very busy stations and you can actually find a seat for the entire journey. The first stop would have been my destination.

I didn't get that one. I had to wait ten more minutes for the slow train. It was packed when I got in, it stopped at all stations and more people got in. I felt like a sardine - welcome to London. My only consolation is that I am tall, so I don't have the unfortunate experience of having somebody's armpit up against my face for the entire journey.

I wonder how different my day would have been had I made that train. Did this morning's occurrence contribute an element of negative emotion that sets my day off on a particular course? Would my awareness of this allow me to evaluate and adjust my attitude and reaction to what happened in a more positive way?

I have missed several trains before. Would all of these occurences be contributing to a longer-term mood and approach to life? Could that attitude affect my performance at work or my attentiveness at home? I think awareness of emotion and attitude is key and being able to identify catalysts that could tip the scale either way is a good skill and habit to develop. Without it, our daily journey is not up to us and we'll only be reacting, instead of reevaluating and taking new opportunities that come as a result of a change in circumstances. For me, the slow train means more time to write and reflect on what happened - to analyse my opinion while in the thick of things (without somebody's armpit in the way).

We can't predict a course of events in something as random as daily life and continuous interaction with strangers. There are so many individuals crossing paths at random events that may force you or influence you to pivot and continue along a new path. Chaos theory tries to interpret this type of behaviour and activity. The best I can offer chaos theory is to analyse what happens in my life. If you are religious or believe in fate you can argue that the path you walk is chosen for you, but everybody has the choice to reflect on these events and influence their attitude as a result of it.


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