Well, after a 20 hour delay, I finally made it to New York.
And while the journey there was rough, it will stand out in my memory as a positive one for years to come.
Let me explain…
Not only did my flight get cancelled, but I was put on standby for 20 hours. Not only was it during a connection in Ohio (where I know no one), but they had also insisted on checking my carry-on luggage from my original departure flight… only to send my luggage to New York without me, on a flight that I was on standby for but didn’t get on. Heeellloo overnight stay with no bag!
“I’ll just hop on the next flight to NY!” I thought to myself as my initial flight was cancelled. Ha! No. The flights were all full, with many other people who jumped ship only seconds before me. It was THAT packed.
And, through the chaos, there was this moment through the whole experience that really stuck out to me.
After one woman had assured me they saved my luggage, and another had told me it was mid-air to New York without me, and after hours of trying to find a new flight, explaining my situation many times and being told many different things, and being up since 4am, I was about to snap.
I thought of the event in New York I wasn’t supposed to miss, the very reason I was going to New York at all.
I thought of my partner, who had arrived hours earlier, at the airport we were supposed to meet in after spending a week apart.
I thought of how much I hated this airline in this particular moment, and everyone in it.
This woman broke the news to me that I would have to be on standby for the whole weekend until I got on a flight, and that all I had was a purse, with hours until my event flying by. I remember feeling my body shaking, my face going hot, and wanting to scream at her. She could see that the news she was giving me was devastating and, likely, had the experience she was speaking with a very, very active volcano that could erupt at any moment.
One thing you have to know about me is… I used to have a temper. I have worked so much on my relationship with anger, it’s been a project under constant renovation for the past 7 years, after a whole childhood of turning to anger as protection. And, for the past few years, I can proudly say I am unrecognizable with how I handle anger now.
But today I was feeling extra rumbly, and was ready to throw my growth out the window.
“You’re going to have to come back tomorrow,” the woman said daringly.
I thought to myself… Tomorrow? No. I have NOTHING with me. At least give me a fresh pair of underwear! And I am supporting someone dear through a MAJOR life event tomorrow. And if I don’t get a plane in time? Oh, lady, you’d better not be here!
I looked up at her, and I realized I was about to throw a storm bigger than the one that cancelled my flight. On the brink of eruption, I exhaled.
One thought occurred to me: this is what is.
Another thought occurred to me: my old temper was fighting to come back, but that brain pattern is BANKRUPT — meaning, it no longer EVER gives me what I truly need. (And really, it never did.)
For you: What about yourself are you working on, or growing, that backfires in times of great stress? What patterns do you quickly return to when you’re pushed enough?
“Thank you for your patience. I know you don’t like giving me this news. I would just like to express that your system for handling luggage is unworkable, but I can understand why they sent it for efficiency if they thought I may get on that flight. Thank you for all of your help, you’ve been wonderful,” I said. I looked her in the eyes, and made sure to really SEE her. I made sure that what I said landed with her.
Time stopped. In that moment, she got to be acknowledged while expecting reprimand, and I got to experience myself as a loving, compassionate human being in the midst of rage.
*And then I cried by myself for a solid minute. But that was due.*
Tip: when you’ve got a strong emotion taking over you, especially anger, wait until you are alone to fully express it. Being responsible with your emotions means being able to distinguish when they shouldn’t be put onto someone else.
Maybe for some of you, anger isn’t your struggle. For me, saying that to her was a result of years of constant practice with my anger. I don’t want to tell you that, but there it is.
Maybe anger isn’t your thing. Or maybe it is, but it manifests in different ways. But the point is, whatever your survival mechanisms are, they’re bankrupt. They are not a source of winning for you.
Why do I share this little, unimportant event? Because life is made up of all of the little things, sure, but it’s also made up of all the ways we react. The way we react in every little event is what makes up our lives.
The other reason why I share this is that, when we ditch our growth, we also ditch the opportunity to see and connect with another human being.
To sum up:
- Life is comprised of how you react in all moments.
- Our survival mechanisms don’t get us what we actually want.
- Ditching growth means less profound connection in our lives.
If you’re someone who, when you reflect on it, often reacts in ways you regret, hear me now: I promise your old reactions are bankrupt. And how you choose to react in this moment or that will ultimately accumulate and colour your entire life.