Open Letter to … Oh, Who Cares

To Whom It Does Not Apparently Concern,

I know that no public transportation system is perfect. Things happen. Trains break down or even get stuck on the tracks in the “narrows” between Draper and Lehi like the southbound train did this evening. I don’t even know how that kind of a thing happens, but I’d like to understand why it did. Because seriously, if trains were running every hour southbound all day without incident, I wonder what happened. Was there a snowdrift? Could the train’s momentum not push through a snowdrift? I guess I could just jump onto a news website and find out what happened, but it’s so much more fun right now to vent.

The conductor did say that “bus bridges” would pick us up from the Draper station and drop us off at the stops farther south. I was fine with waiting at the stop, because I texted the situation to my husband, and he offered to pick me up.

I was fine waiting in the warm train, away from the frigid air, until the conductor announced (and apologized) that the train would have to go back north. He said that everyone would have to get off the train and wait for the bus bridges. I even bundled up and felt prepared to wait in the cold. Somewhere between zero and ten degrees Fahrenheit. Reilly found the address to the station online, and he texted me that he would pick me up soon.

That text came at 5:44pm. We got kicked off the train at 5:58. Draper’s not that far away from Orem, and northbound rush hour traffic isn’t as busy as southbound, so I guessed Reilly would arrive in about 20-25 minutes, which meant 6:05-6:10.

The wait went beyond that range of expectation, which means that I got that much colder for every minute that I waited past 6:10. I was perfectly cozy in my many layers before then. And then somehow my toes froze inside my insulated boots, which means the insulation worked the wrong way.

So Reilly didn’t get to the Draper Frontrunner station until 6:27, which means it took him 43 minutes from Orem. The station looks to be quite in the middle of nowhere, and I wondered if people who’ve never been to the station could easily find it. The answer is easily no.

Thing is, dear Emersonian eyeball of public transportation: Just because you name a road “Frontrunner Boulevard” doesn’t mean the Frontrunner Station is automatically easy to find. Online, the station location is 12800 S 500 W, but the street names do not follow this grid address system near the station. That extra 17 minutes in the cold really isn’t anything to whine about, but if public transit in Utah is to be efficient and comprehensive:

  • Mark Frontrunner (and bus) stations with signs at the freeway exits
  • Use signs en route (from the freeway exit) to clearly direct public transport commuters to Frontrunner stations
  • Provide better online maps/links for Frontrunner station locations
  • Update the website immediately with alerts or route changes

It could have been worse, definitely, but no one should get lost looking for a Frontrunner station, especially if so many people rely on Frontrunner to get to and from work, and especially if another situation like today happens and people don’t want to keep their friends and lovers cryogenicizing out in Siberia because uncoordinated or lacking streets signs have caused the station to David Copperfield. Poof.

Things could be worse. I could be in Florida, stuck on Blanding Boulevard or the Buckman Bridge. I could be in Manhattan, in a Zipcar on the Westside Highway on the Friday before Labor Day.

But things are better now. My feet are warm again, and I can feel my toes.

So, I guess as long as the mercury doesn’t freeze, there will always appear to be a silver lining.

Thanks for letting me vent,

May

Three Quotes

1. “The sensual man conforms thoughts to things; the poet conforms things to his thoughts.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

I like this. It perfectly presents the poet’s process so succinctly. It ties and tucks his thoughts into a neat niche. It brings to my brain a few of my poet pals who absolutely astound me. They know who they are. I know they are brilliant.

2. “There is a special sense of urgency infusing itself into many Church members everywhere that says, quietly, but insistently—this is the time for us to choose! It is not just that God will insist that we choose for our own sake, but that those who depend upon us, or use us as a reference point, need and deserve to know which way we are going. It is no good posing as a lifeguard if one is a non-swimmer. It is no good being a guide if one leaves his post and wanders with the multitude in search of another way, ‘for there is none other way,’ especially at a time when there is a sharper and sharper divergence in the way of the world and the straight and narrow way. The disciple must not only stand in ‘holy places’ but on holy issues and ‘not be moved.’

“In short, the events of our time and spiritual decay in the world have produced for us the equivalent situation faced by many of the disciples who followed Jesus. They followed him until he began to reach the ‘hard sayings’—the doctrines that really demand not only belief, but performance; doctrines which would distinguish them from their contemporary society. The Lord wants us to put some distance—behaviorally—between ourselves and the world, not because we love mankind less, but precisely because we do love men. It is for the world’s sake that we must sanctify ourselves. When Jesus’ followers faced their moment of truth, John records, ‘From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him,’ Jesus turned to the remainder and queried them, ‘Will ye also go away?'” – Elder Neal A. Maxwell

It my imagination, Emerson and Maxwell are good friends in heaven. Their intelligence and spirituality parallel each other; their souls seem kindred.  When I read this quote, it resounded and echoed truth. Its essence clung to me. It’s what I’ve always felt but could never really articulate.

3. “Magnolia’s banana pudding is to die for. Or maybe to fake death for.” – May Anderton

I tried Magnolia’s banana pudding for the first time on Monday. It was kind of a transcendental experience. If I were a poet I’d construct a poem so you could actually taste the pudding as your brain absorbed the words. If banana pudding were the devil, my discipleship would be at high risk. Good thing tasting that pudding was closer to heaven, where Brothers Emerson and Maxwell can help keep me strong. Good thing there are still so many good things, yummy things, beautiful things in this world to enjoy.

Reading for the Train

Emerson’s essays jumped off the bookshelf two nights ago and into my backpack. Why not. I feel introspective and feel the need for more perspective, and Emerson was definitely prospective.

He’s kind of like the richest chocolate you’ve ever eaten. Delicious, succulent; to relish, not to devour quickly but to let the flavor linger on the tongue and the aroma float through your nose and electrify the brain cells. It’s hard for me to handle more than a few paragraphs at a time.

So I began where I always begin: Nature. This was the breakthrough piece. People in his day paid attention when his writing emerged and they gathered in droves where he’d lecture and at his doorstep when he got old. I’d definitely want to be his friend, or at least high on my celebrity sightings list.

I opened the book and began reading. I immediately came across a passage in the first paragraph blows me away every single time: “Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a  poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” 

I don’t want to get obnoxious and quote the whole thing.

This is pure stuff, this elixir of elemental observation. And then it just keeps going, how every word absorbs through the skin and warms and invigorates. The paragraphs move along, my mind makes associations, and if my eyes had hands they would hoard all those words into a stash and try to use them as wisely as Mr. Emerson did.

It always impresses me how the spiritual intellectual often “gets it.” Sure, Emerson was more existential and C.S. Lewis was more about theology, but they both knew what was going on. They took a look at history and religion and their own personal philosophies, and they wrote and they enlightenened and I just want to sit in a room full of people like these two men and listen to them. People who have passed and people who are still living. I want to hear their opinions on the theoretical and the applied. I want to know what their perspectives are on life, from both sides of Heaven’s door.

This will hold me over on the train for a good while.

In other news, last night was a seminary scripture mastery event. During the scripture chase portion, the clue was read, the students turned to hopefully the correct reference, the answer was given, everyone reclosed their scriptures.  But, a lone voice contested the answer. I recognized that voice. That voice came from a student who is in my class.  I walked over to my student (I was judging other teams at another table) and I nudged the student and said, “Leave it to my class to dispute something.” 

The student argued the answer. In a nice way, of course. The student stood behind the answer that wasn’t the one prepared for that particular clue. The student received the points. Of course.

That’s the way I like it.

Not that I had anything to do with that situation, but I couldn’t have been prouder. Emerson would have been proud, too.