I had one of those life learning experiences this past Sunday, flying back home to the Land of Enchantment from LA. When I checked to see if my flight was on time, the Southwest website could not give me that info, due to a “system-wide technology delay.” The site admonished me to be to the airport at least 2 hours ahead of my flight time.
At the airport, one look at the length of the security line made me think it would take longer than 2 hours to get through that line alone. My first thoughts were, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this.” Walking and walking and walking toward the back of the line along the street, my next thoughts were, “It is what it is. I have no idea what will happen. It seems like the next logical thing to do is to get in this line.”
Typically, this type of experience would feel extraordinarily stressful to me. The heat on the street, the chaos of so many people having no idea what’s going on, not knowing if I would have enough time to make my flight, my phone having only about 13% charge, my boarding pass on my phone . . .
I made it through security in about 50 minutes. I was able to show my boarding pass to the initial security person inside the building and the official security person at the security checkpoint with 6% charge to spare. I found a floor outlet everyone else had overlooked to charge my phone to 30% to show the gate attendant. I had time to go to the bathroom and get a bottle of water. And, my flight took off only 10 minutes late.
What a strange and wonderful experience to be loving life in the midst
of circumstances that used to cause me stress.
What would have been 2 hours of extreme stress in the past turned out to be a well-choreographed dance. What had shifted for me?
1. Which thoughts do I choose to act upon? Which thoughts do I allow to pass, giving space for something new?
I allowed my initial thought of fleeing to pass without acting on it. That gave some space in my mind to notice that it was probably most logical to get in the security line, even though I didn’t want to.
2. Don’t try to do better. Don’t make it worse.
I wanted to listen to music to make the situation more bearable. Not an option with so little charge on my phone. Then, I wanted to beat myself up for not arriving at the airport with a fully-charged phone. I did neither and simply allowed myself to be human with lots of other humans, hanging out in the present moment.
3. There is only now. This present moment is my life.
Once I remember that this moment, this string of moments, is my life, I relaxed. I didn’t concern myself with the length of the line. I would either make it to my plane before it took off, or I wouldn’t. Either way, I would be with that in that moment.
I asked the guy in front of me what he was learning about the situation on his phone. I talked with the guy behind me about Denver, his destination, and Santa Fe, mine. I love talking about Colorado and New Mexico. I was patient with myself when I pulled up the wrong boarding pass at the security checkpoint. I was kind to the security guy, even though he wasn’t so patient with me.
I lived in the moment all the way home. I loved myself and I loved those around me, realizing we all were in the same boat. When I noticed someone experiencing stress, I took a moment to see them in a love bubble. I was living my good life in the midst of chaos.
What about you? What do you notice in these 3 Keys?
(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for returning to the joy of you”)