Three days and three visits to the airport. This has provided me with lots of lessons in patience, perseverance and pleasure.
Day one involved waiting for someone to arrive from an overseas flight. This was my daughter coming to visit from living in the UK for eight months. This would be our belated Christmas and a chance to have her here with us in the flesh for a couple of weeks, so much better than the skype calls we have relied on for the last several months. The anticipation starts long before the arrival time of the flight when upon waking I check to see if her flight left on time and it has. No call from her to say she missed her flight so step one successfully completed, she is on the plane and on her way. Now with the advances of technology I can check the progress of her flight during the day and watch the little toy plane on the screen inch ever closer to me. Going to the airport is step two. Now usually I love to use our fabulous transit system and the convenient train to and from the airport but this is special she is coming in on an international flight and she will be tired and besides I am impatient and want to see her as soon as she arrives at the airport. So we head off for the drive to the airport, too early. Of course we get to the airport before her flight is expected in and it is a little late to boot. This is the start of the anxious waiting game. We have enough time to feel like we should do something to pass the time but my restlessness does not allow me to focus on anything other than looking at the arrivals board as if staring at it incessantly will make her plane land sooner. It never seems to work.
Finally step three is achieved when I see that her plane has landed. Hooray, my baby is safe on the ground and somewhere in the near vicinity of us in the warrens of the secure areas of the airport. Now I have travelled quite a bit and know that once a plane lands it takes a lot of time before one gets to the point of being greeted by anyone who has been kind enough to be at the airport. Getting out of the plane, going through customs, finding ones luggage, visiting the bathroom and then trekking down the corridors to the arrival area all takes time. But what if she gets through quickly? maybe we will miss her so we do not take a chance and thus we wait. I am not sure that the video cameras showing people emerging from the baggage and customs area of international arrivals are helpful or not but I found myself glued to them second guessing if the blurry images could possibly be her or not.
This experience is an excellent way for me to get the picture of my current level of impatience and although I sometimes think I am getting more patient as I journey through life waiting here makes it pretty clear that I can return to previous levels of impatience instantly. I know she is here, I know she is somewhere behind those glass walls and I know that she will emerge at any time, nonetheless I want to see her right now. It is interesting to observe oneself in a situation like this. You know logically that it is just a matter of time before you reach the desired goal, in this case hugging my daughter, yet the heart and soul cannot settle and let it happen. My monkey-jackrabbit-like spirit is going full steam and this is killing me. Where is she?
After what seems like forever she does turn the corner towards us and we are thrilled. Finally she is here after all the anticipation, the waiting. Hugs and kisses and unbroken chatter melt away any frustration or irritation that had developed during the waiting time. It is as if the frustration of waiting never happened and I quietly ponder why I torture myself while I am waiting when I know that for the most part this is how it plays out. It was a pleasure to have her here with us once again.
You would think that upon this reflection I would learn something and perhaps even integrate this more patient sense into my being. Maybe I would learn that impatience especially about something that is almost certain is unnecessary and unproductive. As Mark Twain said“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened”
Apparently I need a little more time as the very next day we all headed out to the airport once again to greet and pick up my daughter’s significant other. Once again we went through the same routine: arrive at the airport early; watch the arrivals board and then monitor the video screen to see if we can spot him. And once again he did arrive in good time but not after the three of us spent much time fretting about when he would be with us. Again this ended in the pleasure of being together again.
Now today I have had my own personal experience at the travel thing as I joined my family for a very early morning excursion back to the airport this time to catch a flight. This was also an experience of impatience and frustration with delays and an extended stay in the airport rather than in the air. More to consider I guess and another opportunity to practice moving from impatience to patience.
Irene McDermott © 2011