Recently I returned home to Belize from a quick trip I took to the states to celebrate a friend’s 40th Birthday while also taking care of some technical melt-down issues and some health issues (neither of which were able to be solved in Belize.)
Unfortunately, my plane leaving from San Francisco was delayed because of a mechanical issue which made me miss my connecting flight in Dallas. There were no more flights leaving Dallas going to Belize that day on any airline, so I was stuck in Dallas.
I was really disappointed, but I reflected—as I always try to do in situations like this—on the lesson from the trees in the storm, when life sends storms, bend, don’t break. I said a prayer of gratitude that the delay was not weather related as if that had been the case, I would have had to have paid out of my own pocket for accommodations and all food. I chatted with the gate agent who at first had been told to send me on to Miami, only to have me overnight in Miami. I very nicely said that seemed to be a bit ridiculous, and that it would be much better for me if I could just overnight in Dallas and fly direct from Dallas to Belize. She laughingly agreed with me, checked flights leaving the next morning from Dallas to Belize, saw there was space and booked me on the flight. As I was interacting with the agent as she was working on the computer, a guy walked up who had also been on my flight and was on his way to Belize as well. He and I started talking when he realized I live in Belize.
As we had to wait for our luggage to be re-routed, we agreed to go together to have lunch (with our, oh, so generous lunch vouchers from the airline. ; ) We had a lovely time going back and forth between talking about Belize and also our personal lives. When our hotel shuttle arrived, it was very old and falling apart and the list of names of hotels it serviced had me very worried for the quality of the hotel the airline was paying for us to stay. I noticed my thoughts running away with concern and worry, and I did my best to just let them go—worry and concern would not make the hotel any better. : )
When we arrived at our hotel, there was a horrible chemical smell in the lobby, so I asked the man checking us in, if the windows in the rooms opened, and when he said yes, I gave a sigh and prayer of gratitude that I would be able to get some fresh air into my room, as the main health challenge I had to deal with in the states was my asthma getting out of control and my going into acute respiratory arrest. Strong chemical off-gassing in the room was actually not going to be feasible for me, and I would have had to pay to get a room somewhere else, so I was very grateful when I knew I would be able to avoid that. My new friend and I were both exhausted from lack of sleep the night before and agreed we would take a nap and then check back in with each other on doing something in the evening together. Our plan was to go to the movies (I want to see Despicable Me2—yep, I am that kind of girl. ; ) But it turned out it was too far away and too expensive to take the cab there, so we chose to just walk across the street to a place where we could have a decent meal (we both laughed in a scared kind of way when were first told that our eating option was Denny’s! We both gave a sigh of relief when we found out the hotel across the street was a nicer hotel that had a bar and restaurant inside.)
The hours flew by with ease as we talked like we were old friends reuniting. As the evening became late and it was time to head back to our respective rooms (in the cheap hotel across the street ; ) I mentioned how grateful I was that if I had to get stuck en route, that I met someone so nice to pass the time with.
I was not always as patient a girl as I am now. My fuse was much shorter when I was younger, largely in part because I was so filled with judgment (which I now recognize is a defense mechanism.) I remain so grateful for the lesson of the trees in the storm—bend, don’t break—bend, flow, let it go. I have come to realize that when life gets painful and challenging, it is as if life has knocked us upside the head with a shovel. It is intense, and often times it is painful. However, if we respond to the painful challenge (aka: “storm”) with feelings like frustration, anger, or judgment, it is as if we then pick up that same shovel again and hit our own selves in the head with it! Not really the best idea if our goal is to find freedom, happiness, peace or anything like these!
When it comes to the issue of travelling, I am extremely aware that I cause harm to the Earth, and ALL its beings, every single time I travel. I do my very best to make sure that if I am travelling, I am doing all I know to do to somehow try to balance out the harm, suffering, and violence I am causing and creating.
And sometimes, in situations like this, where so much goes “wrong,” part of that equation includes being mindful of the “chainsaw” of my thoughts, and how that kills off and destroys any possibility for interactions of kindness, mindfulness, and meaningful connections with other people.
I continue to struggle with my health and my ability just to breathe. It has been a challenge my whole life. The gift hidden on the flip side of this coin is that I am never far at all from being present to the very real gift that every single breath truly is. Every single breath is a gift. What we choose to do with that gift is what defines us and creates the legacy of our lives. The true value of our lives does not exist in our bank accounts or retirement plans or anything like that. The true value—our legacy—lives in what kind of a world do we leave behind and how much did our being alive on this planet at this time make a positive difference in the world, for our planet we call home, and to all the life it sustains—past, present, and future?
Life sends storms. Bend, don’t break. Bend, flow, let it go. See what new possibilities arise when instead of fighting the storms, we choose to embrace them. Oftentimes, miracles and angels are all around us. We need only to open ourselves to them by releasing resisting and instead honoring the trees, our teachers—bend, don’t break. There are wonders all around us—even in the intensity of the storms.