After two glorious days of riding the 65km round trip to work I had occasion to catch a train yesterday. I told myself it would be a rest day, time for my legs to recover and a chance to catch up on returning messages and to continue working on my new book.
Well at least that’s what I told myself.
The reality was somewhat different.
Almost immediately the idyllic, peaceful bubble I had surrounded myself in burst as a loud complainer huffed and puffed, stomped, swore and gestured his way into ruining everyone else’s peaceful morning as well. When the lovely lady in front of me pointed out to Bubble Burster that he also had a choice of three ticket vending machines to feed his cash to, he complained that he didn’t want a pocket full of jangling coins in change. He then went on to complain about eftpos users and disjointed sleep that had been caused by a damned full bladder.
At this point I had switched off and considered walking home to get my bike but that’s when lovely lady gruffly told me I may as well go ahead of her because she had to use the damned eftpos too. I smiled and said that I was happy to wait since my bladder hadn’t kept me awake. This comment was met with a roll of her eyes and an instruction to Bubble Burster to stop complaining to the ticket officer and move on; and like an emotional domino it seemed everyone in the line was all of a sudden cranky and annoyed.
In communication lingo this is called mirroring and it’s supposed to be a tool to help comprehension but on this morning it only served to dump us all on the train to cranky town where others mirrored Bubble Burster and soon an aura of anger settled in over our entire carriage.
Until this morning I’d forgotten how quickly mirroring could produce results. When I first started riding I was one of a maximum of three female bike riders in the bunch at any one time. Usually it was just me, and being just a chick none of the good riders would ride next to me. Perhaps they thought it would make them look bad, or slow them down. Regardless of their reasoning I was usually left to ride next to my coach or a desperate dateless who was hoping to ask me out. I could always be assured that behind me some creepy, pervey bloke would be staring at my butt and imagining he was the seat.
I had no control over who rode behind me but I did do my best to control who I rode behind. I always tried to position myself behind the best riders and mimic their technique. Among other things, I learned how to blow my nose properly and point out potholes, how to relax my shoulders and look comfortable when I was in all kinds of pain, and I learned how to ride so close to the rider next to me that our knuckles occasionally touched. Eventually the technique of the good rider and my technique were the same image and I had become one of the riders in the bunch that people wanted to ride next to.
Mirroring was a fast track to success and as I boarded the afternoon train from cranky town to the occasion that had placed me on the train in the first place, I decided that the best course of action was to try to find a happy person to mirror.
Fortunately the occasion that I attended provided me with both a positive mirror and an ideal example of the power of positive mirroring. The event was the opening ceremony of the Youth Olympic Festival. An event where close to a thousand young sport stars from selected nations compete for five days in a kid’s version of the Olympics. Now to be honest I have to admit that I wasn’t a fan of an overgrown kids sports carnival taking on the sacred name of the games. I thought that in some way it would tarnish what I consider the holy grail of sport.
I was wrong.
As I watched the young athletes proudly walk in behind their country’s flag and high five the little kids that lined the stage for them, I started to believe in the event’s tagline “See tomorrow’s Olympians Today”. Statistics from the last Olympic Games in London show that over a quarter of the Australian Olympic Team were athletes that had competed at an Olympic Youth Festival, and out of those 104 athletes, 19 won medals.
Now that’s what I call a positive mirror. With my idyllic positive bubble safely inflated again I chose to walk home, damn full bladder or not I wasn’t hopping on that cranky town train anymore.
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