We’ll start the new year with a question…can you think of any common event/situation that we all must face more panic-inducing, high stress, and all around challenging to our inner calmness than holiday airport traveling? I can’t. Even if you manage to keep your cool, you’re surrounded by fellow travelers who cannot; it’s hard not to feel affected by that frenetic energy. Not to mention those expectations you have: that every plane will arrive when it is scheduled to, that your checked luggage will arrive at your destination when you do, that other passengers are as prepared as you are to take off their shoes and belts and remove coins from their pockets and place their 3 oz. liquid containers in a plastic bag before the security line.
A friend and I once had a long conversation about how airports are unique in their ability to contain and create a large number of emotions from a large number of people, all at one time. No other place on earth do you find a person simply overjoyed at greeting another, or someone overcome with sadness at a departure. People are afraid to fly. People are irritated, relieved, hungry, exhausted, laughing, lost.
To say the least, we were truly blessed with uneventful holiday travel to and from Costa Rica, where we celebrated Christmas, the New Year, and a wedding. Other wedding guests we met, however, were not so lucky. While one couple recounted their travel disasters to us over coconut shrimp and margaritas, from rerouted flights to misplaced luggage to hotel and car reservations that somehow vanished into thin air, my jaw dropped to the ground – not because of the overall catastrophe, but because they were smiling and laughing through the whole story. I found inspiration in Kristi and Dan’s grace, sense of humor, and ability to adapt and thrive in the face of what is normally for most of us a source of unbearable anxiety.
I was inspired to take up more grace, more patience, and a more light-hearted approach to travel as part of a new year’s resolution. (I would later need this on our journey, but that’s another story). Sometimes imitating the gentle, quiet qualities you admire in your friends is more attainable than trying to achieve godlike perfection we might demand of ourselves for resolutions.