I’m a bit high strung. Those who know me realize that’s a tremendous understatement, especially when things don’t go according to my plans. So when a return flight I was scheduled to be on recently was canceled due to mechanical issues, thus forcing me to remain where I was an extra day, I freaked out at first. Before I get into that more, let me backtrack and announce the winners of the chocolate mint tea giveaway. Confused by that segue? Read this post.
Are we on the same page now? Good, because the winners, I’m delighted to say, are
Brick House Chick and Jill Weatherholt
Congrats, ladies! Jill, I have your address, but Maria, please email me at lmarie7b(at)gmail(dot)com with yours. Thanks to all who participated.
Getting back to high-strung me, as soon as the announcement was made that the flight was canceled, I immediately said, “Get me on a plane right now! I have plans!” to the airline employee. (And no, I won’t name the airline.) Mine was not the lone voice. Others shrieked their displeasure. But the answer to all of us was no. The best the airline could do was offer us each a motel room for the night and a rebooked flight the next day.
When I arrived home and called my parents to tell them what had happened, my practical dad put everything into perspective: “Do you realize how incredibly blessed you are? Don’t just see this experience through tunnel vision.”
Yes, my father often speaks in aphorisms. He was right about my tunnel vision. I tend to look at what’s wrong or what I don’t have, and then look toward a time in the future when what’s wrong is mended or I can have what I think I need. I’m pretty sure I’ve written a post about this before.
Dad then segued into how blessed I am to be a writer. “Stop looking at what you don’t have, and instead focus on reality. The real time is right now. You need to slow down and think about all the blessings you have, [blessings] like you’re free to write what you want.”
“What?” I countered. “I’ve had books go out of print! I’m broker than I’ve ever been in my life.”
“Maybe those books served their purpose for a certain time. Be present in the now. You might already have what you think you need.”
As I hung up the phone, I grudgingly admitted that he was right. I have the opportunity to write the kind of stories I’ve always wanted to write, even if right now I’m not getting paid for them.
I can’t help seeing my frustration about the delayed flight and my frustration over delays in life as synonymous, since they both point to expectations I had that weren’t met. They also point to my impatience. But as my father pointed out, I can look at both another way. I took his advice to start focusing on reality by first thinking about what was great about the experience of being delayed in another city.
After awhile, I began to see the adventure instead of the misfortune. While staying in the motel, I made progress on my novel revision. Best of all, I talked with many of my fellow disgruntled passengers—people I never would have talked to had I not been forced out of my comfort zone by this change in plans. I helped a woman look for an iPhone charger at a nearby K-Mart. I talked to two guys for hours, one of whom proceeded to drink a fifth of vodka and a Colt 45 while dispensing sage wisdom about life in Chicago. And then he invited me to join him in the Jacuzzi in his suite. I turned him down politely.
On the following day, while waiting for the airport shuttle to pick us up, I chatted up my fellow passengers over breakfast. And the guy who extended the Jacuzzi invitation came up to me and said, “Woo, I was really drunk last night.” Instead of immediately thinking that I had just been obliquely insulted, I decided to chalk it up to the blessing of having real connections with others and the wisdom of knowing when to just say no.
What’s happening “right now” for you? Are you looking at the now or the later?
Airplane from thinktalkblog.com. Now and laters from itsalldirect2u.com.