It’s January and along the Wasatch Front in Utah, there is an inversion–a thick layer of dirty polluted air caught between the mountains so it can’t clear out. This is nothing new, it happens every winter, all winter long. What this does for the inhabitants of the Wasatch Front is make them think they are living in a world of grey–bottom to top. We forget there is a blue sky above the crud, because the crud is all we can see, until a storm blows in and blows it out. You can do a couple things in the winter to escape and remind yourself that the world has not really fallen into an ashy existence bordering on death and darkness; you can drive up to the ski resorts that sit high above the layer of muck, where the baby-blue sky, the yellow orb of a sun, and the crisp fresh air are all still available, or you can get on a plane and get out of Dodge.
I’m doing the later today. Or at least that was the plan. Last Sunday I woke up, had no plans for vacation and by noon I’d booked a cruise to the sunny Bahamas for me and my boys–leaving in 5 days. No more of this crud for us, we are heading out to find the sun again! At least that was the plan. We’ve been sitting in the plane, on the tarmac for three hours.
Sliding through the snow storm, along icy roads fresh with new snow, at 7:20 a.m., Sophie maneuvered her SUV into the Delta drop-off/loading section. We grabbed our bags, I gave Sophie a big hug and a thank you as I left her with my dog RockStar, and we ran for the gate. The storm had put us a few minutes behind. We need not have worried – by noon we were still sitting in the plane–in Salt Lake City–wheels down.
We sat, we got de-iced, we sat more, the plane broke, we got out, we changed planes, we canceled our connecting flights we would miss, we rescheduled connecting flights, we got on a new plane, we sat some more, we de-iced, we sat some more. We waited for “catering” to transfer their goods to the new plane (Apparently, peanuts and water are all the rage in catering these days.). We listened to the “exit door” speech for the second time. The polluted, gray air we are trying to rise above seems to laugh, “Don’t even try to escape,” it says with a squinty-eyed glare.
There are moments when life feels like this too. You want to get out of a bad situation and no matter how hard you try it seems your efforts never take lift-off. You de-ice, the snow starts again, you get out on the runway, the plane breaks. You change planes and you start all over again. It happens. Now, we have choices in these situations. I can get out of the plane and throw a tantrum, lying beneath the inversion and sucking in the filthy air while shivering in the light jacket I was planning to wear in the Bahamas, for brighter days. I can yell at the stewardess, growl at the pilot, complain to fellow passengers and piss and moan about the delay. I could also take the extra time to get to know people around me, get more reading done, make a game of smiling at people, create a movie on my iPhone about life in the airport, teach myself to juggle peanuts, sleep.
Every day we choose our perspective. Since it’s all about the NOW, about the journey, we must remember it’s not just the sandy Bahama beaches (the destination), it’s how we get there that’s part of the memory, part of the story we are creating. Even the days under the inversion as we fight our way above it, can be something we are proud of if we create an outlook, a perspective, and an interactive space that focuses on looking up, looking out, finding things to be happy about and keeping focused on getting out of the bad space and into the good. Sticking with the plane until we can take flight and transition into sunnier days and cleaner air. Creating a journey you can love, not just desperately hoping for a destination where everything will be better. Remember, wherever you go, there you are. If you’re miserable in Utah, you can also be miserable in the Bahamas. There’s wind, and sea sickness, high food prices, and tourist gouging. There’s crap to deal with no matter where you are in life, but there is also beauty and people to meet, little blessings to be grateful for, and ideas to hatch. There’s always a song to sing or a hand to hold. Find all those beautiful things no matter where you are, and as you make your journey toward the sunny beaches of your dreams you’ll be creating a story, that while not without delays, inconveniences and missed planes, will be a story of grace under pressure.
As I finish this I’m still on the tarmac. Here’s hoping for brighter skies…soon. I wish I could play the guitar, and that the guitar was here, and that there was room to play a rousing song of Kumbaya, where all the people on the plane would sway and sing along in harmony, and that the guy behind me would quit kicking my seat.