Thursday, June 08, 2006

Missing my flight

I arrived at the Santa Barbara airport after a short visit on a work trip, that had been marred by bad weather. But today, as I was departing, it was sunny outside. When I got to the ticket counter, I was informed that my short flight into San Francisco was delayed due to fog there, and I would miss my connection home, so they would have to re-route me. Have you felt that immediate reaction when things don't go as you planned -- don't meet your expectations, and you are attached to the outcome (I wanted to be home)? Yes, I was upset. I tried calling my travel agent, but there were no good alternatives. Finally, I accepted the rerouted itinerary that the ticket agent cheerfully and helpfully provided; but I was sullen.

So I went outside to kill time, bemoaning the fact that I would now be getting home later than planned, and probably with not as good seats as I had worked out previously (yes, I know how trivial it sounds -- what can I say -- it's how my mind was making me feel).

Then as I sat outside in the beautiful sunshine, listening to some music, I had this incredible wave of beauty just envelope me. This was not a conscious act on my part. I didn't "will myself" to start taking a different perspective. Something just clicked, and I was "spiritually forced" to get out my camera and start taking pictures (the one above is a building at the Santa Barbara airport). And then another stage, and I put away my camera and let my own eyes become the lens — the witness. I detached from my own thoughts and petty concerns, and everyone and everything I saw was so beautiful, so peaceful. I watched a little child, maybe 2 years old, holding on to a dandelion walking around on the grass, checking out all the flowers. She looked over to me and smiled. Later on, her father was out with her on the lawn with a tennis ball, teaching her to play catch (more like fetch ;-) and to throw it back. So gentle. Such love and compassion. Indeed, everyone I saw, all their interactions were nothing but friendly and peaceable.

I don’t know, I must have looked like a crazy man, just leaning against a tree smiling at everyone and everything I saw. Yes, it was a beautiful day, but what came over me was something very unique, and I've felt it only a few times in my life. It is a detachment from your thought process, and a detachment from your future expectations. You are able to just witness. And from that detached perspective -- not judging, not calculating, not thinking -- what you experience is the inherent beauty that exists in the world. I don't think this is something you can "strive" for, as I think it really is a stepping back from desire and expectation. It is "un-doing" all of your planning and preconceived notions.
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
-- Lao Tzu
Oh yeah, and the re-routed flight? Got me home earlier than I was originally scheduled, and the seats were excellent. Seems to me I just need to chill out more often and take each "detour" (aka, life as it is) as a blessing. Which I did that entire day. What a really nice experience.


Anonymous said...

Love this story...and your blog.

Steven Crisp said...

Thanks for the kind thought and encouragement. Please come back again soon.