I am sure you are wondering what on earth I am up to with this kind of title to greet you on this fine morning, right? For starters, for once it was not my doing, and I had no part in the entire drama.
As I’ve mentioned before, Lisbon drivers like to live on the wild side, regardless of whether we are talking about bus, motorcycle, car or lorry drivers. Exempted from this group are the police, ambulance and firemen, who have the right to zigzag like a drunken hedgehog in order to save a life. The morning began as usual, emerging from my train station at Sete Rios and ambling over to my morning cafe (by the way, GG had the milk foamed and ready, so when I walked in at 7:00 on the dot, he smiled and asked “Your capuccino?” and my croissant was already sliced and plated). There was a car parked obnoxiously right on the zebra crossing, the engine idling and the driver frowning. The road I take to the cafe is a busy one-way street and merges onto a cloverleaf in front of the station so you can imagine everything going on at that junction. Then all of a sudden, the car shifted gears, and began driving backwards on the one-way, almost keeping in pace with me, but on the other side of the road, completely disregarding all the oncoming cars and buses. Then he jammed on the brakes in front of what he thought was a parking space, but changed his mind and opted to double park a few meters further down the line.
As I crossed into the safety of a small parking lot, I stepped in front of a minivan who was also searching for his shadow – and a miracle apparently. He had at least six free spaces to choose from, and he drove past each and every one, until he reached a dead end and ended up driving backward to the beginning. I left him repeating the process a third time, none the wiser.
It all sounds hilarious, but it me thinking about life choices. How often do we land in proverbial one-way streets, thinking this was an irreversible and final decision, and we wanted this come hell or high water. Oh come on, we all have a closet full of youth follies! Don’t sit there and tell me that you never made a horribly wrong decision, the magnitude of the error only manifesting itself a few months or years down the line. Yeah, I see you cringing, I thought so. Welcome to the club.
Whether it is out of love, obligation, peer pressure, blind faith, stubbornness or plain stupidity, we somehow manage to land in what seems to be a dead ends or one-way streets and surrender. Simply surrender; and live with the decision.
There is always a way out. You always have a choice. Always. Remember that. OK, sometimes you have have to think out of the box and drive in reverse like there is no tomorrow, but in doing so, you will eventually find that sliver of opportunity that, albeit the cuts and bruises that come with the territory, will offer you the exit you need.
Take a few minutes to soak in today’s photos and think about what I just wrote about:
This anchor spoke to me in the early morning. I usually associate anchors with special people in my life, but in this case, it made me review all the burdens that weigh us down and tie us to a place against our will. But anchors are never permanent. They can and should be raised. Don’t be afraid to set sail, and please, don’t use age as an excuse. Look at me, starting life over in my mid-50s.
This man is at at the station in Vila Franca every blessed day. He arrives earlier than the rest, and stands there, stock still in silence. Something tells me he is or was a soldier, because only the military can instill such self discipline. He has at least six empty benches to choose from, but he stands in the exact same spot every morning. At first I found it creepy, but he has now become a fixture to my mornings and I know everything is in order when I walk past him.
Finding serenity in our daily lives is about falling back on the constants, and not being imprisoned by the anchors. Dare to drive in reverse!