Zen and the Art of Being A Passenger
Hello from the shores of the great Gitchi Gummi. I’m 2 days into my nearly 3 week retreat at my family’s beach cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Up here, clocks are irrelevant. Time is measured by the subjective grumbling of tummies and meals are planned according the rise and fall of the sun. Good novels pass through multiple hands, beach volleyball teams include 3 generations, and the best form of exercise and meditation is paddling our stand up boards straight for the horizon through the crystal clear Superior water.
Yes, indeed. This is the good life.
Vans, planes, and automobiles.
But this good life is also about 2,400 miles and 14 hours of travel away from my San Francisco apartment.
Those who know me consistently hear of my love for all things Terminal 2 and Virgin America, so the 4 hour flight to Chicago passes well.
Then we have the 7 hour drive from my parents home in suburban Chicago through the entire state of Wisconsin and then through Michigan until we dead-end at the Great Water. But I love the drive as its my reintroduction home. It’ my favorite time for catching up with family, admiring the pastured dairy cows, and watching corn blow in the wind.
Which leaves only the leg of the journey from my apartment to SFO. (Cue ominous music.)
Basically, for about a third of the price of a cab, you can get picked up from home in a royal blue 11 passenger van 3 hours before your flight and driven in circles around the city picking up other people willy-nilly before heading to the airport.
For example, on this last trip I was picked up at 10:50 am, driven 3 miles across town in city traffic to grab another passenger, and then returned to within 3 blocks of my apartment to get another no-show passenger at 11:30 am.
Why do I do it, you ask?
To practice surrendering.
You see typically, I like to be in control of my immediate environment. I plan out my days and my errands logically and efficiently, no back tracking or mistakes allowed.
And yet so rarely in life are we in situations that we can completely control. Much more frequently we deal with things beyond our control: other people’s schedules, the weather, traffic, and our boss’s mood swings. We are the passenger.
The oft quoted Viktor Frankl said that the last of man’s freedoms is that freedom to choose your emotions.
But like all skills and habits, choosing your mindset takes practice.
Rather than be left completely unprepared when an event that can cause deep sadness or anger comes my way, I choose to let times of mild frustration serve as practice for a time when I really need this skill.
With Supershuttle, though my gut reaction is to feel anxiety over the illogical route, I focus on the beauty of my city and the ease with which I inhale the fresh, summer air.
I focus on making myself better, happier, more calm with each backtrack and wrong turn.
So next time you accidentally choose the slow line at the grocery store, are stuck waiting at a restaurant for your perpetually late friend, or are in a heat wave with no signs of breaking, try surrendering rather than fighting your circumstances.
See the magic that awaits you on the other side!