When I first moved to London and joined the world of commuting someone told me that those who walk up escalators go after life and those who stand wait for life to come to them…

Being someone who always thought they went after life – I was never going to stand on an escalator after hearing that. No matter how hard my heart was beating I would never let it show as I glided up the moving steps feeling virtuous over my fellow commuters who were waiting for life.

It was only the other day – almost 20 years later – that I decided to stand on the escalator and watch who walked, and who stood to see if there really was anything in this statement. I noticed two things: – the walkers always looked stressed and in a rush and those standing were either looking at phones, listening to music (or both), eating (yes lots do eat on the escalator) or talking or laughing with someone. So are they really waiting for life to come to them, or are they just the patient, calmer ones actually being in the moment? Is this really how we measure success and ambition in our society – by the speed at which we move along, versus those who take time to enjoy the journey?

Maybe as we get older we move from the left side of the escalator to the right side and it is about taking time to notice what is around us and not just being focused on getting to the top as quickly as possible.

So do you walk or stand on an escalator?

12 Responses to “The Escalator Ride”

  1. I walk purposefully up on most days either because I want to be more active or I am more excited to get to my destination than I am to enjoy the journey (the balance would tip in favour of the journey had I been driving through the Scottish countryside rather than being on the grotty tube).

    And other days I’m so absorbed in my book that I want to eek out a page or two more so I stand and read, or sometimes I want to listen to the buskers or look at the affection between people, experience the bickering couples or whatever.

    You’ve made me wonder if I eat on the escalators…I don’t think I do but now I think I’m going to deliberately notice.

    • Nice to see you go with the flow and don’t have a set way of doing things Andy – sounds like you are in the moment which is good. Yes, let me know if you eat or not :o)

  2. Both and having read your blog I am very glad I swing from the right to the left as the moment takes me.
    Thought provoking ….. Keep making us think.

    • Thanks for your encouragement Lyane – means a lot.

  3. I love this blog Hilbs. A real reminder that so many of us are motivated toward getting through the day from A to B as easily as possible, in my case looking forward to x 2 babes being despatched to bed and collapsing ‘job done’ with a glass of wine and mindless telly of an evening. My best days are when I remember to relax about the ‘to do’ list, and to appreciate and enjoy the day as it unfolds. I was lucky enough as a child to have a magical elderly lady in my life, who was like a granny to me. I remember staying with her when she was in her late 80s. She took enormous pleasure from very simple things. We sat on a bench eating an ice cream and watching some sparrows hopping around in a flower bed, and the world going by. Not the most naturally exciting thing for a teenage girl, but for some reason it has always stuck with me as a memory, and a time of being completely in the moment. It’s amazing what you notice if you take time to stop and see.
    Nowadays, I try to take a few minutes at the end of the day to think of at least 5 things that have been special that day. On bad days I struggle, but it is often then that I remember the hug, or the smile, the bird on the feeder, the walk with the dogs, the sun on my back. It’s the free things that we so often forget to enjoy.
    Wise words Hilbs and thank you for the reminder.

    • Beautifully expressed Ness – I could really see you sitting with your ‘granny’ just enjoying the simple things and in fact it prompted me to sit the next day and just watch my little birds feeding while I ate breakfast – very peaceful to just observe the goings on around us. Also what a great practice taking time at the end of each day to show gratitude – there is a noticeable difference in our feelings towards life when we make a conscious effort to focus on the good stuff. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. When I started reading the blog I puffed myself up and thought yes “I am a walker” keen to move fast in my life, reading on I felt humbled that in fact it is important to take note on the life around you. Perhaps a balance between both is the way forward and without looking at that phone!!!

    • I love your last bit about the phone – it is hard to remember a life without some sort of device. It really won’t be long before we are wearing our technology – scary!

  5. I’m with Rachel (surprise surprise). I’ve never let myself stand unless I am with someone who clearly prefers to. And then I am quite happy to chat and enjoy the ride. I’ve always thought of those who stand are lazy, but I will change my opinion of them now. But will I be able to ride an escalator again without thinking of you Hilbs? No never!

    • I was curious about your choice of words Viv – ‘never let myself stand’ – that implies that sometimes you would like to stand but have a belief that it is ‘lazy’ which stops you standing even if you feel you want to. We all have these underlying drivers (Gremlins) for most of our actions and it is really worth noticing when you want to do something but don’t because you feel you can’t ‘let yourself’…have fun on your next escalator ride!

  6. I’m a stander – I love watching the people, reading the adverts (gives a great sense of what is going on in London). Commuting is hectic and stressful and that little escalator after a long walk through packed tunnels is like a blessing – someone invented this thing that can take you where you want to go while you get to hang back for 2 minutes and bask in the easiness of it. I also love the really tall ones – I am scared of heights but love to face that fear. I hold on tighter as I get near the top and look way way down to where I have come from… So yes, escalators are fun and I enjoy them, don’t want to rush up and away from them…

    • What a fantastically positive perspective – will definitely think about ‘hanging back’ next time I am on an escalator. Thanks for sharing Carmel.

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