I recently attended a medical conference in Philadelphia and decided to take the train. It seemed too close to fly, but long enough that I did not feel like road-tripping it. The thought of 3 hours of wasted time, driving, was almost too much to bear. At least I could bring my laptop with me and be productive.
I had to be there in the morning -was presenting in a workshop - but didn't want to spend an extra night away from the family, so I booked the earliest express train I could. The 7 a.m. Acela Express.
The gate was full of business-types in suits and briefcases, heading to Philadelphia or New York. I felt out of place in my purple dress and suitcase. But, what a great ride. It was amazingly fast and smooth. Plus, I got actual work done. When I stepped off onto the platform in Philadelphia, I felt decidedly more comfortable and more than a little disappointed to have booked the plain old regional home.
About a year and a half ago, I wrote about a different train, the slower train that my career was on since finishing residency and having kids. I just read that post again and marvel about how quickly things have changed.
I find myself riding the Acela Express, literally and figuratively. (How I ended up on it, I'm not so sure. It's all kind of a blur.) For the past couple of months, I have looked up to see the scenery flashing by the windows and the stops have become far less frequent. I have blamed the convergence of several deadlines and projects, yet I also wonder if this is the new reality.
I can see why people choose the Acela. It is seductive, this speed. I can get places much faster. It is difficult to get off; the stops are few and far in between.
My problem now is not knowing if I can keep pace with the Acela. I've been more stressed than usual, working much harder, and burning the midnight oil. (And if I wasn't sure if I was stressed or not, I could just ask the sebum-producing glands on my face, or my stomach lining.)
I've talked about this with my husband (who is no stranger to the express train), who reassures me that this is all good. It's all about adapting to a new level of productivity and reaching the balance needed with it. I may feel out of balance now with work>life, but I will learn to adapt, as he has.
I hope this is the case. Because, I have to admit, this express train is kind of exhiliarating.