There is something comforting about airplanes and airports for the well-traveled. In an odd way, it feels like home.
For me, airports and airplanes make sense. I can get through security in under three minutes (excluding time spent waiting in lines). I could recite the Safety Information Guide and do the demonstration with my eyes closed.
But I think what really makes me so comfortable in the travel world is that for a few long hours, all you are thinking about is the moment. It is as if time has slowed down and we weary travellers are living in a sort of stasis.
Yes, you have your flight to catch and gate allocations to remember. But if you have a layover longer than an hour, you have quite a bit time to roam, explore, eat, and sleep.
Travellers exist in a sort of time warp. We are neither here nor there. We pass travellers who are just as tired and blurry eyed as ourselves all headed toward somewhere.
The past is firmly in its place–literally and metaphorically. The future–both immediate and further out–is on the horizon but we cannot do anything about it.
Yet the moment the airplane lifts off the tarmac, you are once again moving forward. It may feel like the longest five, ten, or twelve hours of your life but you are moving forward.
And I think that we have to remember this fact outside of our travel experiences.
Time plays tricks on us and our minds become crossed, convoluted, and confused.
But we are always moving forward.
It is very difficult –maybe even impossible–to write and commentate on the holiday season without cliches. I am not going to try to avoid them but I hope I can speak in a way that is meaningful and thought provoking.
The festive season is marked by a plethora of decorations, sales, masses of people buying gifts all of which is meant to make the last month (or two) of the year feel special.
We greet each other cheerily. Happy Holidays. Seasons Greetings. Merry Christmas. These are just a few of the salutations we read and hear and see.
I wonder if there is real good will and kind emotion behind these words. More often than not, I think we are just following socially acceptable customs and norms.
If that is the case, than the holidays are not so different from our day-to-day lives. We do the same thing with different words: “How are you?”; “Have a nice day!”; “Thank you”.
Christmas is about focusing on good cheer and kind actions. It is about being gracious and generous to others particularly to those who are in need.
But I think what is more important is to realize that these attitudes should permeate our lives at all times. Be kind and generous through small acts. Spread joy and good cheer by treating people with respect. Find moments to stop and be thankful for everything you have been blessed with.
This Christmas, I hope I treasure the moments I have with friends and family. I hope I make another person smile with a small act of kindness. And I hope I carry all this forward with me in the days after Christmas and well into the new year.
We walk the journey of life with our hearts and minds looking at the wrong places and thoughts. The steps behind us; the stumbles; the heartbreaking screw ups. The things ahead which cannot be seen—jobs, spouses, children; the days in front of us that we will never know in the now.
There is nothing we can do about the life we lived and the life we will live. The only thing we have is now.
Our life’s walk should be simpler; we make it complicated. Place one foot in front of the other. Revel in the moment and the sounds, the wind in your hear and the sky overhead.
The world will keep turning. The sun will rise and set. People will die and new life will be born.
Our past and future will remain where they are no matter how hard we try to pull them into the present.
I choose to focus on this moment. Let all the worries and shame and guilt slip away. I am breathing in the world right now.
So burn me with fire and drown me with rain. I’m gonna wake up screaming Your name. Yes, I’m a sinner. Yes, I’m a saint.
Whatever happens here…
*Lyrics from Christina Aguilera’s “We Remain”.