June 4, 2014
I’m currently on the flight from Toronto to London. The rumble of the plane is louder than I remember; hopefully it quiets down before I decide to get some shut-eye. The sun is nowhere to be seen, but the traces of its path have left the sky outside my window a burnt orange that fades to a golden hue and then a periwinkle blue. Above that is the navy color that the sky turns before dark swallows the light. It’s somewhat surreal to be above the sun and the white puffs of clouds. To be going to London, a dream of mine for a long, long time. It’s all foggy and seems simply unreal. Is that why I’ve been so stressed? The unreal and real continually seem to bump heads in my life. I’ve been planning this trip for the past eight months (or five years).
(Those floating cotton fields just look beautiful right now. It looks like a calming blanket laid out over the world. It stretches as far as the eye could see. White cotton candy rolled out like roads and grass and cityscapes in an imaginary place I visited long ago; rolling and rolling until the orange halts them.)
Up until a few weeks ago, when I thought about this trip I would get butterflies in my stomach like I was falling in love; that floating feeling, like flying. And then, reality happened. Family issues, a car accident, a friend’s life ending tragically. There I was, pumped for the adventure of a lifetime, and then these little punches came out from all angles of my life.
However, I have got to let that stuff go, at least for the next twenty days. All of those problems will still be there when I return. How many people get to pause their lives for almost three weeks and go live a different one? I think I’m getting those butterflies back just thinking about it.
That’s actually a good question to ponder as I travel with Steve around Europe: How do people reconcile the good with the bad? What do people cherish that makes life (which can be painful) worth living? I know it is not money and technology and all of the relationship-sucking garbage that many people hold on a pedestal. So, what does make people around the world happy? Things that make me happy: my husband, family, and friends; good food, fancy wine, books, writing, kids… and yes, new objects like a car with air conditioning and a case for my Nook. But above any object or possession, there is traveling. Hence why I am on this plane.
I just have to shake off these past few weeks and live right now. This is a challenge I face daily. Another question I’d like to explore: Do people know how to live in the present moment? It seems like an impossible concept in fast-paced America, but how about elsewhere?
(The white clouds have now transformed into hungry grey beasts. How can something that looked so serene moments ago now look so haunting?)
As I write, my anxiety is lessening. When I plan something that I hope will be “perfect” (i.e. this trip, our wedding, etc.), I get so anxious right before the event. I worry that I put too much stock in something that will ultimately be a disappointment in the end. I’ve realized this about myself. What I need to come to terms with is that…
(Five hours later)… life
can be is messy and unpredictable. For instance, I was on a writing roll when I got interrupted mid-sentence with dinner (a delicious chicken dish with vegetables and couscous along with a fudge brownie and wine for dessert. Is this first class?) Then, I realized a movie was playing that I have been wanting to see, About Time. It was very good and explored the challenge of living in the moment, which I found somewhat ironic seeing I had just been writing about that exact topic. After that, I was sleepy due to the travel and the wine and the sleeping pill I took, so I guess I sort of slept in a waking sleep. I remember waking up briefly and looking out of the window, realizing that we are actually chasing the sun. When you’re this high up, the sun never truly sets, it just moves on. That beautiful orange still painted a streak across the sky and now, when I look out, I don’t think it looks ghostly. One person’s dark is another one’s light (of course, I learned the scientific reality of this back in elementary school, but the metaphorical significance is just hitting me now).
And with that, I leave my troubles behind. T-1 hour until we reach London!