Last week I traveled to Tucson, Arizona to celebrate my oldest son’s 27th birthday. Getting to Tucson–or anywhere–is not as easy as when we lived 15 minutes from LAX. Currently, we live in a po-dunk town with an even po-dunker of an airport so to go anywhere, I first need to drive a minimum of 2.5 hours and shuttle from my car 15 minutes to get to the airport. It’s a long prep just to get on the plane and get home after the trip. A good time for that audio book.
On the way to Tucson my two connections were silky smooth. No problems at all. I met a tribal judge on the Tucson leg who had gone to law school at Berkeley like my step-brother and my step-dad. She was reading Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now. How could we not be friends?
I spent a fantastic week celebrating with my son and his friend, Kelly. We hiked, we explored, we went to movies, farm to table eateries, local coffee shops, fancy birthday dinner, and just had space for one-on-one time to talk and to enjoy each other’s company.
We also got to meet the final five winners of the Last Comic Standing and see them perform. This was special for us because we had watched this show since he was in high school. We always loved laughing with (and at) the different comics. No matter how hard high school was (and we definitely did have some dark days during that time) that show always gave us something to look forward to–an hour we knew we could count on to be together and laugh. The live show just happened to be booked at The Fox theater in Tucson where my son is working while finishing up a PhD program at University of Arizona. It’s a beautiful, restored theater with lovely people on staff. To be able to be in that space and share that experience with my son and Kelly felt sacred and colossally fun!
While walking around in my perpetual good mood, I became very aware of moods of those around me, especially concerning the weather. The Tucsonians were very concerned about flash floods. There was much talk about it. The grad department at the University closed down in the early afternoon. People were sandbagging. News coverage was all about the impending storm.
I thought about how we all can jump on the bandwagon. We’re in a good mood and everybody else is yelling, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and then pretty soon we’re asking ourselves, “Should I be more concerned that the sky is falling…or, should I stay anchored in my intuition and act accordingly.”
It did sprinkle one day, by the way, but that’s about it. The cloud cover kept us nice and cool and in the high 80s instead of the 100s which was a beautiful thing. The other benefit of the mass hysteria about the un-storm was it kept the streets/restaurants/etc. traffic free for us to enjoy. The only place packed out was a country bar called Denim and Diamonds. These people came to dance and were going to dance no matter what.
After a fantastic week, I boarded the plane in Tucson knowing I’d be home after a few connections to make the long drive home. However, when we landed on the runway of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, the pilot mentioned the airport was on lockdown. My first thought: another opportunity to practice attitude.
What happened next reminded me of the reactions to the un-storm. Inside the plane, people started making calls. Going on their news feeds to find out what was happening. Yelling out their findings.
“Somebody’s been shot and the airport is on lockdown,” somebody yelled.
“No flights going in or out,” somebody else yelled.
The passengers had informed each other before the crew chimed in, an interesting influence of our 2014 culture. The stories, you may imagine, we’re just pieces of a truth. We really did not find out the “real” truth (or did we?) when we got to the airport. The media tries to cover such things, but as we all know, they get it wrong as well.
Sitting out on the runway for two hours does not bring out the best in people. I heard things like, “This is a nightmare” and “I have no idea what I’m going to do.” I can relate. Nobody wants to miss their connecting flight and be told, “Sorry. All flights are full and we can’t get you out for two days.”
There was a time when this experience would have unraveled me. I’d have been yelling and demanding justice be served. This time, I was determined to be kind to the people trying to help me, to my fellow passengers, to strangers in the same conundrum.
And here’s what happened. I made a new friend and we shared a ride through the airport, my phone because hers died and ideas on how to get out of this scenario in a way that would serve all needs. I also was asked if I wanted to go on stand by (me and about 100 other people, btw) 20 minutes after I finally reached the front of the mile long customer service line. The woman looked at me and paused before she asked, as if she was sending me “you will get on that plane” energy. I asked her about my bag because it was locked up in the manhunt downstairs. (They still hadn’t found the shooter.) She asked me to describe it. My first thought started out, “There’s no way in hell that bag is making it” but before that thought could even finish, I rewound and reprogrammed: I will get on that plane and so will my bag.
As I stood at the gate, waiting for the stand-by names to be called, I felt a seed of doubt trying to take hold in the soil of my brain. Denied! I will get on that plane and so will my bag.
And guess what? We did.
So here’s my takeaway: send love to those around you, sing when you can, dance always, and welcome opportunities to practice all those things in various venues, even crime scenes.