Feb 17, 2015

LGA to ORD: A Meditation on Happiness

One of the biggest challenges in coming back from India is trying to figure out how to hold on to the peace, the love and the light that I found within myself there. How do I maintain this in day-to-day life? How do I continue to find compassion for people when they are rude, inconsiderate and grating? Case in point.

I flew from LaGuardia airport this morning to Chicago's O'Hare. It was another snowy morning, so I expected delays, especially since it's LaGuardia, the bus stop of airports. As is common in the winter, especially in the snow, the plane needed to be de-iced. This, after boarding maybe 35 minutes late. In the grand scheme of things, not a huge deal. And I, for one, am a fan of de-icing the plane. It's this wonderful task that keeps us from not plummeting to our deaths from up in the sky, or from perhaps crashing during takeoff. (I'm not really sure at which point ice effs up your world on a plane, I just know that it does, and therefore, I'd prefer to not have any on my steel tube of flying magic.) Take as long as you need good de-icing sirs, please and thank you. 

We were further delayed because the runway needed to be salted. Again, another standard winter safety precaution to keep us from sliding into the icy East River instead of ascending safely into the morning sky. So, you too salt trucks, take as long as you need. 

Unfortunately, the family of four in the row behind me didn't feel the same way. They were angry that we were delayed, angry that they took time to de-ice the plane, angry that they were salting the runway. "But all of the Southwest planes have left! Why are we still here? This is ridiculous! This airline is terrible!" Followed by sighs, rants of agreement from his two daughters and his wife. The rants were accompanied by the daughter doing god knows what to my seat—playing patty cake perhaps—all before take off. 

I'm pretty sensitive to the energy around me. But pretty much anyone within a ten row radius of this overly aggravated man was likely affected by his vitriol. I could have easily mustered the New Jersey rage inside me and yelled, "Hey fucktard, would you rather your family plummet to their deaths because the plane was not properly de-iced? Were those 20 minutes so important to you that you'd throw safety to the wind?"

I didn't so that, obviously (or maybe not obviously if you've seen me on my bad days). But even thinking of saying those things is a huge disruption of my internal stillness. It's irritation, it's judgement and it's certainly a lack of compassion. So I ask again, how do I hold on to the light and the love I felt for everyone when I was in India? We asked that same question while we were still over there. How do we take what we are learning and how we are feeling back home with us; back home to the tri-state area of all places, land of rage, land of short tempers, land of ruthlessness? 

How do we love when it's easier to hate? How do we stay open when it's quieter, and at times certainly easier, to shut down? How do we find grace and patience when the world is constantly in your face?

I certainly do not have all the answers. So I try to breathe. I try to meditate. I try to remember that feeling of pure love that's deep down inside, that's always accessible if I can just tap into it. I practice. I stay connected to the people who inspire me and understand me and who can guide me—because we're all in this crazy ride together, airplane or otherwise. So let's just get there happily and in one peace, shall we?

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