At the end of a wonderful vacation, our flight was delayed. We sat on the ground in the plane for two hours. To make matters worse, we actually boarded early so that added an extra 45 minutes (with no air I might add) to our sitting time. We were near the back of the plane which was on the smaller side and I felt a little claustrophobic.
I began to rant. “This isn’t right. This isn’t responsible.” You can imagine all the lines going through my head. There were updates from the pilot every 10 minutes basically letting us know – nothing. Status quo. We were still sitting and waiting.
Finally there was the suggestion that if things didn’t get moving in the next ten minutes, we would be towed back to the gate and exit the plane. Even that sounded better than where I was. The towing began and then it stopped and then the plane finally took off. Total round trip time from the east coast back to Los Angeles: 12 hours.
Yes, it was frustrating. Yes, we were exhausted. Yes, we were hungry, but we were home. We were safe. And we had enjoyed a wonderful vacation. Was I going to let the negative experience of the flight home spoil the whole trip?
And, as I’m sure my readers will inform me, as negative experiences with airlines go, this was far from the worst (in fact I’ve had some of my own that make this one really pale in comparison).
I had to re-orient myself. I had to hold on to the images and memories of all the fun activities – the biking, the kayaking, the boating, the beautiful sunrises, (my beautiful grandchildren) – and not let what was ultimately a trivial hassle derail me. I took a deep breath, grabbed my phone to feast on the colors of that early sunrise (5:12 a.m. but who’s counting) and peace descended once again.
Life is filled with hassles, most of them petty and trivial, most of them ultimately irrelevant. Yet we give them power. We let them affect our mood, our relationships, our experience of life itself. We need to regain perspective.
Every job has its drudgery and every wonderful moment has a cost. We have to drive to the ocean (How can I complain? Some people have to fly! Our biggest hassle is finding a parking spot!). We have to endure nine months of pregnancy and the pain of labor to have a child. And that’s just the beginning.
We have to save our nickels and dimes to go on vacation and we have to put up with security lines at airports and flight delays and lots of transportation time back and forth from airports in order to achieve the experience we desire. Our jobs may require busy work. Our medical care compels us to fill out endless forms but it’s certainly a price we’ll pay in order to be healthy.
The real mistake is in expecting anything else. If we expect everything to be hassle-free, then we will live in an almost constant state of frustration and disappointment. But if we recognize that everything worth having has a cost, requires effort, and doesn’t come easily (I didn’t even touch on marriage) then we won’t be thrown when it happens to us.
We’ll dust ourselves off and gird ourselves for battle with whatever the challenge of the moment is, all the while reminding ourselves of the great benefit we are working towards, of how that trip, relationship, job, child, you name it, is so worth the price.