Traveling always teaches me a valuable lesson.This year was no exception. The way I react to the unexpected ups and downs is very similar to how I handle most things in my own life.
We arrived at Newark airport in plenty of time. Just as I stepped out of the car, curbside check in opened and I was second in line. The whole process was a breeze as I found my way into the security line. To my surprise, I was able to bypass the crowd thanks to that lovely label on my ticket that read TSA Pre-Check. I was at my gate in no time with plenty of time to spare. I actually sat there believing the rest of the trip would be just as smooth.
Everything fell apart from there. Delays, missed connections, more delays and finally a seat that was broken and would not recline. I was miserable and angry that I was stuck in a situation that I couldn’t do a single thing about…well except one thing anyway. I put a snarl on my face and continued to express my disdain through excessive complaining. I wanted everyone to know just how put out I actually was. I was sick and tired and I just wanted to be at home in my own bed.
Looking back, I know I had two choices. I could dwell on every detail that went wrong and coddle the victim inside of me or I could make it an adventure and just go with the flow. I took the dangerous road, the one that is full of darkness and despair. The end result was the same. I eventually got home and I type these words from the bed I longed for all day. The challenges weren’t the problem, my attitude was. As much as I know I have no control over the circumstances around me, sometimes I still throw a silly tantrum like a spoiled toddler.
The lesson is simple. Sometimes I will have to sit in a place that makes me extremely uncomfortable. Sometimes I will have no choice but to follow a direction I would never voluntary choose for myself. What I do and how I react will define not only the entire experience and my perception of it but will also expose to me who I really am. Yesterday I was a spoiled toddler. It is time to stop fighting what is and to find the most comfortable chair in my most uncomfortable moments. It’s time to embrace that a moment is only a short amount of time and that each one that passes by, will be different than the next. So pull up a chair, order a margarita and relax. This too shall pass. It always does. What seems like the end of the world today will only be a distant memory in a couple of days. The sky is not falling unless you convince yourself it is. Cant you think up something better than that?
Late last night I shared my adventure of being diverted to another airport on my flight home due to weather issues. I guess life was testing me because the story got a little complicated way too fast. My intention was to go with the flow and not get overly stressed out by what I couldn’t change. Not long after we landed, the pilot made an announcement that the plane we were sitting on would not be flying anymore that evening. They had discovered some damage to the wing and didn’t think we could get flights back until the next morning. After what seemed like forever, they announced they were getting charter buses to bring us the hour and a half ride home. Flight time was 20 minutes so the crowd was pretty disappointed. Lucky for me, my husband was already on his way and I was very grateful. They eventually allowed us to leave through the back exit and make our way to the airport. The plane was half empty when they started yelling for everyone to get back on the plane. It would be fixed in the next 40 minutes and we were expected to sit and wait. I called my husband and told him to make his way back to the airport and sat there another hour and fifteen minutes. I, along with the other passengers watched in disbelief as the maintenance team duck taped the wing. At last we were off and our hour and forty five trip turned into five hours. It was a long day and I was exhausted but as I climbed into my own bed for the first time in weeks, I was very grateful, even if it was three in the morning.
Life is a test. Everyday we are faced with new challenges. Whether we pass or fail is entirely up to us. We can keep on flunking or finally get it right. The sooner the better because life will offer the same test over and over until we do. Someday, I will look back on this and laugh. Today is not that day. Until then, everyday, I will remind myself, I should not fight what I cannot change. Just flow.
As I traveled home last night, I started to reflect on the past year. The first flight went amazingly well. We had a quick 50 minute layover and then a short a 30 minute flight and we would be home. I saw a parallel in those crazy flights and my own life. My goal every year is to to look back and see growth. I want to know that as the year comes to a close, I am a stronger, better person that who I was when it began. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Only I know myself inside and out. I know my thoughts and I certainly know my own heart.
As I sat there totally frustrated with the unexpected delay, I began to understand how our thinking can shed a negative light on a year of growth. All I had left was a simple 30 minute flight. It was a long day but I was almost there. Instead of focusing on how far I had come, it was easy to let a few minute delay change my entire perception of the entire journey. I think we do that in our lives as well. There is so much growth and so much to be grateful for, but sometimes we get so caught up in what we haven’t accomplished that we convince ourselves we must have failed. That last part is the hardest to travel. The inner critic voice reminds us we are not done yet so we forget to celebrate how far we’ve already come.
Life is a constant journey of discovering who we are. We strive to be the person we want to be but sometimes we get delayed. The journey will continue when the time is right. It’s okay to pause for a moment and remain still. It is in that stillness that we start to hear the inner voice that reminds us tomorrow is another day. Delays will happen but they are a temporary pause in the journey, not the end. Don’t let your mind let you believe you are stuck there. Maybe it’s just that higher knowing that softly whispers you are headed in the wrong direction but you can always choose another flight to a different place.
As the year comes to a close, celebrate who you are and how far you’ve come. There is only one unique you. You may not be perfect and really that’s okay. Remind yourself you are only human and every day offers a new chance to be a better version than who you were yesterday, but don’t forget to pause for a moment and rejoice in who you are today.