I haven’t written a blog post in a long time due to a fantastic but slightly traumatic job change that has used much of my creative energy these last few months. But recently I traveled via airplane for work and while I am not exactly afraid to fly, I do have a rather detailed ritual that I am convinced has kept the plane I’m on from crashing. With each takeoff I visualize the face of each person I love, saying thank you, I’m sorry, and I love you to each of them. Then I have a double Jack and Coke (or Vodka Tonic if I have an after flight meeting and don’t want boozy breath) and wait for the landing part when I ask myself “If I died right now, am I good with shit?” The internal answers vary and always seem to help me zero in on what I’m doing right and where I have gone terribly WRONG.
On my return flight from LA after a day and half visit to a carpet mill, I was crammed up against the window by a very large man who clearly didn’t want to talk. He had his coat pulled up around him and only his eyes and nose peaked out. I don’t think he felt very good. The fact that he immediately (before we had even taken off) began passing gas that smelled like dog shit helped me deduce this. I’m sure he was a nice man but I pretty much had my face smashed up against the cold airplane window trying to find some kind of non-putrid air, so I didn’t try to engage, telling myself that if I had dog shit farts, I would NOT want people talking to me. Instead, I visualized all my people and made note of who I needed to give more attention to, ordered my stiff drink and kept my nose close to the blessed bourbon.
But the landing, which was a little turbulent, made me zero in pretty abruptly on the question “If I died, am I good with shit?” And I’m not referring to the shit smell coming from the guy sitting next to me. I was NOT good with that, though he eventually worked some things out in the bathroom.
Three things stood out:
First, that while I deeply missed the travel agent from my old company who KNEW to always put me in an aisle seat, because I am extremely claustrophobic and have a weak bladder, especially when drinking booze, my dramatic job change was the absolute right thing to do.
Second, the words “I’m not writing enough” rang loud and clear. Writing is air for me and when I’m NOT writing my soul doesn’t feel comfortable in the skin it’s currently living in. Thus this post, which will hopefully get the juices flowing enough for me to revisit the book I’m trying to write.
Third, and I’m not sure if it was Double Jack and his skinny pal Diet Coke making me feel chill or if I really meant it, but I answered my own question with the words “Other than the not writing thing, I feel like my shit’s together enough for me to go, if it’s meant to be.”
And these words made me totally panic, thinking that I may have just given permission for God to take the plane down along with its innocent passengers all because I was having a rare at peace moment. Luckily I am STILL not the center of the universe and it turned out that there were enough people on the plane who DIDN’T feel the same way I did for us to land safely.
In retrospect, God might have thought “Ummm. Girl. Your shit is SO not together and regardless of the fact that the guy sitting next to you pretty much begged me to take him when he was shitting his guts out in the tiny airplane bathroom, the fact that you say you’re ready to go tells me you’re NOT. Sorry. No plane crash on THIS day.”
Which is fantastic! The ritual worked AGAIN!
But that brief and rare moment of peace made me ponder this: how DO we settle our souls so that we can be comfortable enough to deeply believe at each moment “If it’s my time to go to a new and waaaay different place right now I’m good.”? For certain there will ALWAYS be unfinished business. I look at how I kept putting off resigning from my old job in order to take on a new and more challenging one, thinking “I just need to do this one more thing before I go. My customers need me for just a little while longer.” But activity always leads to more activity. Solving a problem always leads to a whole new set of problems. There is never a good time to go if we judge our lives with an infinite checklist of to do’s. I finally had to say “It’s time to just leap and let go and accept that someone else will have to finish that business because I have some place else to be now.”
This calm acceptance I felt on the plane is something I want to somehow capture in my everyday living. Of COURSE I like it here on earth making a bunch of awful messes while at the same time putting a whole lot of sloppy love on my people and I want to keep doing this for as long as God’s gonna let me. But having peace in the fact that someday I will leave this fantastic place even though I didn’t “get it all done or do it all the right way” makes the messes seem quite magical and the sloppy, imperfect love I put on my people feel so very perfect. And complete.