My wife and I recently afforded the opportunity to take a trip. By ourselves.
Three nights away. Three nights of choosing what we wanted. Three nights of eating out without anybody throwing food or spilling milk. Three days of quiet, except for the sounds of the city.
Just the two of us and the whims of our own will.
As you can imagine, we had a wonderful time. The purpose of the trip was to relax. To recharge. To let go of the tension in our lives. To do what the craziness of our normal day to day lives typically prevents.
To simply be.
Letting Go of the Tension
On the way back, we took the train to the airport. I predicted poorly how long it would take us.
Years ago we missed a flight because we didn’t check-in early enough. Unknown to me, the airport had a 45 minutes prior to departure minimum check-in time. We attempted to check-in at 44 minutes. It amazed me how unforgiving the system could be over sixty little seconds. I have never forgotten the feeling of missing that flight.
Realizing we would be cutting it close, I felt the same tension building inside of me. As we sat on the train, I stared at my watch, watching each second tick away.
When we arrived at the desk to check-in, it wasn’t too late. But the agent did warn us that she could not guarantee our bags would make it. I could tell by the look on her face that she was accustomed to angry responses to her routine statement.
Realizing that it didn’t matter and that the problem was out of our hands and that it could definitely be worse, I decided to let go of the tension.
“If they do, they do,” I said, dismantling the tensions between us.
I chose to accept what was. It was time to move on and let go of what i couldn’t control. To stop worrying.
To simply be.
We made our way to the gate and boarded the plane. I sat down next to the window and pulled a book out of my bag, trying to soak the last few minutes of the beautiful peace and quiet before we came back home to the interruption of six kids. I opened my book and settled in.
Suddenly I snapped to attention, as if waking up from a dream. The book sat on my lap, ignored. It was faced down, opened across my leg at the same page I started. And I realized that I was staring out of the window, mesmerized.
I was watching the baggage handlers load the suitcases onto the airplane. Each suitcase was thrown from a trailer onto a conveyor belt, which carried them into the belly of the plane. I was hypnotized by the slow methodical process.
And all of the tension I had felt on the train and had tried to let go of was back. I was watching to see if our suitcases would make it. I was hoping that they would, as if somehow my life would be better with the visual confirmation.
I stopped being and started worrying.
Missing Out on Being
If you had asked me what I wanted most out of that moment in my life, it was too read. To enjoy the last few minutes of the quiet and solitude because I don’t normally get it.
But instead, I chose something different. I chose to stare out of the window, hoping to relieve the tension I felt inside. I chose to be anxious, even though I had already admitted it didn’t matter.
How often do we let this happen in a given day? How often do we know what we need to do, but do something else? And how often do we do this even when we know we can’t change things?
How often do we let that which feels urgent distract us from that which is really important?
How often do we miss out on the chance to simply be?
Have you ever let the urgent distract you from the important?
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