Control and Traveling – When Plans Go Awry

I am sitting on the 2:23 from Rome to Assisi. It feels like I have been on quite a journey. It is the train I had planned to catch but as Robbie Burns once said, “the best laid plans of mice and men gang after aygley” only one hour ago I would have wagered a large sum that I was not going to be on this train.
 The day had begun smoothly with an easy trip to Barcelona airport, a relaxed hour and a half at the airport for coffee and breakfast then a quick flight to Rome arriving on time. It always seems strange arriving in another country and NOT going through immigration but that is the way it is in the EEC, only the Brits have border control.
 I knew I had over two hours before my train left so I felt relaxed plus I had done all this before with my friend Nancy five years ago. The airport has a train that takes you to Roma Terminii and from there you catch the train to Assisi.
 This is where the story goes awry. I realized in hindsight that this relates back to my continued need to be in control of every aspect of my trip. I had researched the train times and knew exactly which train I needed to catch – the 2:23 from Rome to Assisi, that was until I went to buy my ticket.
 The options offered me did not include the 2:23, there was one at 1:18 that the machine suggested I may not be able to make and there was another at 4:00 both required one or more changes.
 At this point I panicked. There was a line of people behind me with pursed lips and frowns so I decided to defer buying the Assisi ticket until Rome. This pissed me off because it would cost an extra fifteen euro but in the moment it was the best I could do.
 Once again when confronted by loss of control the child re actively emerges and could not make the right decision.
 I had lots of time I should have just cancelled the transaction and reconsidered but that did not happen. In the face of overwhelment I lose my authority.
 It took me a while to forgive my own stupidity but once I could see my reflexive, automated response it helped me get over it. I am hoping this awareness will reduce the incidence of such reactions. So far no such good fortune.
 In that moment a series of events began to unfold that I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams but it gave me a very uncomfortable two hours. Perhaps it was the universe’s way of helping me learn to stop trying to control everything.
 I had already set in place some variables later in my trip to experience handling unplanned situations but it seems the universe had advanced the agenda. (I am smiling as I realize I am still trying to control when I face being out of control.)
 Mistake number two was climbing aboard the train waiting at the terminal and assuming it was the right train. It seemed logical, I did wonder if it was the slow train instead of the express but as I had lots of time I was not too concerned.
 It never entered my head that the slow train actually would not go to the same terminus. Instead it took me through Rome and out the other side. Ironically my intuition guided me to get off at Roma Tiburtina then I panicked when I saw the name on the station and jumped back on again.
 My discomfort then increased when after three more stops the green fields of the Roman countryside emerged and the city completely disappeared. I found someone who spoke a little English who told me Rome was behind us, so I leaped off and set about returning the way I had come.
 I now had no Idea how to get to the main terminal. I found a young woman who said she spoke “poco, poco” English but she knew enough to tell me that I had to return to Roma Tiburtina to catch the Metro to the main station. I sat as patiently as I could dreading a ticket checker would approach me. There was a long announcement in incomprehensible Italian that I think meant we were delayed because we sat for about ten minutes.
 By now I was resigned to the whims of fate, I knew eventually I would get to Assisi but stopped worrying about when that would be. I duly got off and caught the Metro to Terminii and found the ticket machine. It was 2:09 and to my amazement, my original train time now showed up – I began to smile – was it possible I would still make the train I had planned?
 First I had to figure out which train – not easy because it did not mention Assisi on the sign board however there was one leaving at the right time for Perugia from Platform 1E. It took me ten minutes to walk there. It was about as far as you could go without leaving Rome but at 2:20 I sat in my seat. I had even managed to remember to validate my ticket – a cardinal sin on Italian Railways resulting in a 100 Euro fine.
 An English speaker confirmed that this train did go to Assisi so at last I could relax. The trip was not without one last cosmic nudge.
 Our first stop was none other Roma Tiburtino, my third visit in two hours – had I followed my intuition and stayed there on my first visit I could have avoided a lot of angst and got the train from there. God does have a great sense of humour.
 Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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