Recently Amtrak train number 188 derailed as it attempted a turn going twice the allowed speed limit. The Northeast Regional Train had 238 passengers and five crew members aboard as it headed from Washington DC to New York. Needless to say the train never reached its destination because of the unfortunate derailment which occurred in Philadelphia.
This tragic turn of events not only injured dozens of people, but at least seven have died and an innumerable amount of people were inconvenienced. Further investigation of the derailment revealed that the train was moving at a speed of about 107 miles per hour. This was entirely too fast and a perfect recipe for the Amtrak train to derail. Famed R&B Singer India Arie said it best in the chorus of her song Slow Down:
Slow down, baby you’re moving too fast.
You got your hands in the air with your feet on the gas.
You’re about to wreck your future running from your past.
You need to slow down before you go down baby.
Amtrak did not derail because it was misaligned, the misalignment was a result of the speed the train was moving. Just like with Amtrak, it is our responsibility to ensure that our life is not misaligned and headed for derailment. The train conductor might have witnessed a different outcome if his train-car was travelling alone, but just like in life; his decision to roll at twice the recommended speed affected everyone connected to him.
Recently while my husband was on a business trip I had the task of taking my car to the repair shop and had my alignment checked. I figured it is 2015 so how hard could it be. Years ago guys in garages took advantage of women who appeared at their establishment alone, but those days should be over. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised as the guys patiently catered to me and all of my questions.
The biggest question for me was, “What in the world is an ‘alignment’ and what does this mean for me today?” As he shared the process, I quickly realized how detrimental potholes and worn streets are to my tires and guidance. As I sat looking at the bill and cost of the realignment, I began to see how easy it is get off track in our lives, families and business.
The word alignment is defined as – the proper positioning or state of being adjusted in relation to a course. You see it is not usually a single pothole or circumstance that knocks our alignment off, but a series of actions that develop into habits. After a while, we simply stop feeling the sudden bump or jerk of the wheel.
We plot a course and drive without awareness of how it is affecting the long run of our journey. Slowly and slightly the wheels of our life being to drift too far to the left and/or too far to the right. Before we realize it, we are way off course and heading for a wreck. Here are a few signs you can look for as an indication that your alignment is off:
The smallest issue causes you to act like Kanye West: The whole world has seen the explosive temper and weird lengthy rants of Mr. West. From his controversial comment about President Bush to making claims that his wife is a hotter topic than the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. He has issues, as we all can see. The questions you have to ask yourself are: Do your friends feel the same way about you, do you fly off the handle because a waiter got your order wrong or do you have daily road rage? This could be a sign of a deeper issue such as misalignment. When a car is out of alignment, the driver and anyone along for the ride feels every bump in the road.
Close relationships are beginning to shy away: If you have never driven a car out of alignment, you have no idea how uncomfortable it is. There is a constant pull to either side of the road. You even find yourself jerking the wheel which makes the passengers feel the effects. All of a sudden your friends are offering to take their car instead of yours. Why? The ride is too bumpy for them. We have to remember that on this journey to wherever we feel is our destiny, we are not alone. We have a cadre of friends, family members and others we have connected with traveling with us. It is your responsibility to ensure your passengers are comfortable too.
You feel yourself being pulled to the left and right: A car out of alignment keeps you on your toes. The way cars are designed we should find a certain ease in driving them; especially today with all of the luxurious amenities that are available. On the flip side, when the vehicle is out of alignment, the driver has to be on alert at all times. There is no relaxation while driving, because at any second you may start to drift.
Needless to say I left the repair shop relieved that my issues with alignment were taken care of. I also drove away with a greater understanding of all the unseen things going on every time I drive. It’s funny we never pay attention to things until they malfunction. For me, I have become keenly aware of my personal alignment, the importance of watching out for “potholes” in the road and am determined not to allow my life to derail like Amtrak.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Featured Image Courtesy of Archives New Zealand – Flickr License
Top Image Courtesy of Stephen Little – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Doug – Flickr License