In the first years living in Germany, I was often teaching in places no one had ever heard of, like the small village of Much. A dear student, Christiane Berger, and her husband, Manfred, renovated a farmhouse and made the top floor into a yoga studio. It was a full-day workshop with a full group of students joining. To arrive at 9 for the start of the workshop, I set out on my train journey just after 6.00 from Heidelberg. The first part of the journey went well, then I switched to a local train.
The train slowly made its way through the small villages and finally arrived at my stop. As the train pulled into the station, well, there really was no station, just a small building. There was no platform, just a strip of gravel on one side. I choice the gravel. Pushed on the handle, but it did not move. Behind me, I heard the sound of the door opening as someone exited the train. Okay I thought, I can get out on the other side. In the time it took me to take two steps to the other side of the train, the doors locked and the train began to pull out of the station. The train was now taking me away from my stop. In desperation, I pulled down the red emergency stop lever. A blaring sound began. The train rolled on. The sound continued and so did the train. After more than a minute I returned the lever to the off position, the sound stopped, the train went on.
I was in shock, mixed with anger, frustration, and concern. This was before mobile phones, so I had no way to let the person waiting for me at the station know what was going on. I spoke to the ticket person about connecting trains to get back and with this advice, I exited the next station and waited for a train to bring me back to my original stop where someone was waiting to pick me up. As I stood in a light fog, cold and alone at a deserted station, I felt a sadness at the events beyond my control. I took a deep breath and switched on my Walkman. Yes, those ancient cassette playing machines. Lorenna McKennit filled the void with her beautiful soulful voice. I calmed down, breathed deeper, and relaxed a little.
It was another 25 minutes until my return train pulled into the station. The train was nearly full. I found one seat next to a young girl. The seat arrangement meant I had two people facing me. I looked at the passengers in those seats, looked again, and finally smiled when I realized they were twins. Young twin girls about 10 years old. When they saw my reaction, we all had a laugh. I began to speak, but they were not able to understand my English. As I settled into the seat for the 15+ minute ride back, I then noticed the young girl sitting next to me. Then I gazed at the twins across from me, and back to the girl next to me, and then with great surprise realized they were triplets. Again we all laughed at my reaction. What a truly amazing event to have happened. I take these improbable moments as the sign of a loving creator, having a bit of fun with me.
I now exit at the correct station to discover the person waiting had left. I called my Christiane and we decided it would be fastest if I take a taxi. Gave the driver the address, and off we went. The driver got lost, but I recognized the street we needed to turn on and told him where to go. I got out of the taxi, my hosts were relieved. I looked at the time, it was 1 minute before 9. That was close.
Keeping relaxed in situations we have no control over, means we control ourselves. We can decide how to react to difficult and stressful situations. I have found it always works out in the end. The choice is to be miserable until the end comes or to keep trusting and enjoy the detours of life. I recently came across a great expression that sums up my feelings.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
Photo: Christiane and me from another visit around 1998.