I took the train and inadvertently rejoined humanity

I’m a big fan of change and trying new things. My problem is that I’m usually too scared to try things outside of what I’ve grown up thinking is normal or expected. Which is ridiculous when you realize that I constantly rail against the status quo and start to go crazy if that terrible word “routine” gets a foothold in my daily life (this could be why I blog in clusters).

Recently, though, I’ve rediscovered my love of new things and the unexpected rewards/consequences that come with them. This story starts with my hatred of I-95 and ends with me riding on a train.

I hate I-95 – well, maybe I just very much dislike driving on I-95 – or any other major, crowded, highway. There are too many moving parts and I find that I’m constantly flipping through the list of possible stupid actions that the cars around me could take, which has saved me from a few crashes along the way but makes me ‘dislike’ the drivers around me. See, when I expect someone to do something stupid and then they do that exact stupid thing, it really gets to me. I figure that if can tell that you’re about to do something stupid, you should be able to see it to; and if you don’t see it, you’re an idiot.

OK OK – that’s not my point, but you get the source my inspiration. This is in addition to the cost of gas and wear and tear on my aging car (anyone have $1000 for new struts?).

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I found the solution to my traveling woes in the humble South Florida mass transit system. Specifically, Tri Rail. I realized that I could easily drive to the station near my house, ride the train for 20mins and then walk 5 minutes to my job.

Brilliant.

Fast forward about a month. Having figured out the logistics of getting to and from the train I took the red pill and followed the rabbit hole a lot further than I expected. (In case you missed the reference).

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I sat on the train and looked across at the passenger facing me.

“Hi, I’m Mike.”

What? Did I just say that? Who is this dude and why am I talking to him?

“I’m Jeff, nice to meet you.” (probably not his real name because I totally can’t remember it)

Just like that – I was conversing with some guy I’d just met … on the way home from work.

Maybe that didn’t click for you.

I was pleasantly speaking with a person who, had we been in separate cars, would have been my sworn enemy for 20 miles of roadway. In a car I would have written this guy off as some idiot who was out to kill me, but on the train we were practically BFFs.

And that’s not all. I thought back to my time waiting for the train and I realized that there were real people around me. Like, poor people, rich people, white people, black people, etc… And we were all there for one reason:

To take the freaking train.

Who knew that you didn’t have to loath people with whom you traveled? Now, instead of waiting for one of them to cause my early death in a 12-car pile-up, we all found our seats in unity hoping, together, that the train wouldn’t derail and explode in a fire-ball, killing us all.

And that’s a camaraderie I haven’t felt since my last bumpy plane ride.

5 Things I’ve Learned about Change from my Baby Daughter

Growing and changing takes a lot of work and no one knows that better than a baby. Babies learn how to eat, sleep, move, play, walk and talk in the course of about 2 years – and we complain about learning new skills to jump to a new career. Change isn’t easy, but it is intuitive; here are 5 things that my baby daughter showed be about change:

1. There’s always a reason for change

Babies don’t do much when they’re first born. They eat, sleep, poop and repeat. Oh, and they cry when any of those activities is delayed. Babies also wouldn’t survive very long like that if left alone, so they need to learn to eat on their own, go to sleep by themselves and how to clean up when the need arises. If babies did not change when the call to change came, they would not be around long enough to do fun things that adults do – like read articles.

And you and I won’t be around long enough to do the fun things that successful people do if we’re not willing to change based on the need that arises.

2. You must push yourself to change

The hardest thing for me to learn as a dad was that sometimes I needed to let my little girl work hard at something, get frustrated and then figure it out. For instance, a mandatory practice called “tummy time”.

Tummy time is a routine of 20 minutes a day where you put your baby in the one position that she is almost never in – on her belly. This generally made my baby mad. “Why,” I thought, “Would I want to put her on her belly if all she’s going to do is cry? That’s just mean.” Well, apparently, tummy time helps babies strengthen their necks so they don’t look like bobble-heads all the time. Babies need to be ‘forced’ to lay in an unfamiliar position in order to change for their own good.

Sometimes we all need to force ourselves into unfamiliar, uncomfortable positions in order to achieve the change that we need.

3. Change can alter the way you see the world

When my daughter was only a few weeks old, I remember my mom saying, “Babies will get more fussy whenever they do something new.” At first, I didn’t think that made sense; wouldn’t the baby be happy that she figured out how to do something? Wouldn’t she pat herself on the back for a job well done?

I found that babies can’t reach their backs… and that they get fussy when they do something new. A nurse at a local mommy-and-me (and occasional daddy-and-me) program explained it this way: she said, “When babies do something new, like walk, they are basically rewiring a part of their brain – and that can be stressful because their perspective literally changes; from being on the floor to standing on two feet.”

So, then, don’t be afraid when you do something new and find that your perspective has changed – take a minute to catch your breath, relax and then look around and see what new doors are now within reach.

4. Necessity drives pace

Have you ever noticed a baby’s arms in proportion to her head? My wife had to point this out to me. If you put her little hands up as high as they will go – it’s only about to the side of her head. Now, lift your hands up as high as they will go.

See how much longer they are than your head and neck?

Get to the point – OK. Basically, it is more important for a baby’s brain to grow than it is for her arms and legs; so her head gets bigger and bigger while her little appendages take a while to catch up (like 13 years – hence the middle school awkwardness).

The pace of your change will be set by the necessity of that change – and if you get your priorities out of order, you’re going to end up with really big arms and a really small head.

5. Sometimes, you just need to cry it out

I hate when my baby cries; it’s one of the most heart-wrenching sounds I’ve encountered. What I’ve found, though, is that sometimes it’s good for her to cry. As she has been learning to sleep on her own, she will default to wanting my wife or me to hold her while she drifts off to wonderland. And although I would love to rock her to sleep the rest of her life, that gets unreasonable at a certain age – in fact, I would be doing my daughter a disservice if I picked her up every time she was crying in her crib as she would have trouble figuring out how to sleep when I can no longer be the one to do it for her.

This is a hard lesson to learn – but believe me, when you’re on the verge of tears and about to give up, just cry it out and keep pushing forward; you’ll be glad you did.

Has your baby taught you anything notable? Or maybe you learned about change from another unlikely source – let me know in the comments.