I feel like vomiting.
The turbulence of our landing makes my empty stomach feel uneasy. Combined with too little sleep last night, my body is not happy right now.
It never fails. Every time I take a plane ride somewhere I’m amazed at how inconvenient it can be, even in small ways. I’m amazed at how much it interrupts ‘normal’ routines.
I’m amazed at how interrupting my life and being inconvenienced is good for me.
My routine lately is to sleep until I wake up naturally, no alarm. Usually, that’s around 8:00 am. Unless one of my seven kids wake me up at night, then I sleep longer to make up for it.
Last night, I went to bed at 11:30 pm after packing for my trip and talking to my husband. My two year old woke me up at 1:00 am and kept me up until after 2:00 am. Then she came into bed around 5:00 am. I finally gave up and got up at 5:20 to get ready. No sleeping in when you’ve got a flight to catch. Less than five hours of sleep will have to do.
There’s nothing quick for breakfast, so I make my morning drink (steeped cacao, cocoa powder, butter, maple syrup, and cream) and we get in the car, in the dark, and drive in silence, too tired to talk.
Buying breakfast at the airport would have been wise. But in an effort to keep my routine normal despite traveling, I work on my laptop instead. Before I know it we’re boarding.
I have the aisle seat (I prefer the window). A nice, young man sits next to me (wow, I sound so old. But now that I’m forty a 26-year-old is a ‘nice, young man’. Right?)
I don’t usually talk to anyone. I’m an introvert. My preferred flight situation is to cuddle up to the window seat in silence. But this nice young man starts up a conversation and we chat the entire flight (and his conversation influences my life, but that's for another story).
We chat, even during our turbulent landing, when my empty stomach and my overtired body start to feel like vomiting.
“Wow,” I think to myself while trying to maintain polite conversation and not puke, “travel is so good for me — conversing with strangers, controlling my breathing, keeping down bile…”
My connecting flight is already boarding when we land. I rush to the next terminal just in time. No chance to grab food.
By now I’m feeling weak and shaky. It’s been 5 1/2 hours since I started the day with little sleep and no food. My body is not happy with me.
I use the bathroom after stowing my carry on but get stuck in the back while the plane continues to fill with passengers. It’s 10:30 am. I’m hungry and exhausted, all I want to do is eat. You would think that would be a simple thing.
If I was at home, I’d have a snack and be working, which is what I really need to do, but instead, I’m standing at the back of a plane, lightly shaking and waiting for strangers to take their seats. Travel is so inconvenient and disruptive. But it's a chance for me to practice patience and politeness in the midst of personal discomfort.
I do breathing exercises and listen to calming music to keep from retching while I wait for cruising altitude and food service. “Wow”, I think again, “this really is so good for me. When else do I get to practice dealing with so much discomfort? I usually eat when I’m hungry and sleep when I’m tired and work when I feel like it. Now I can’t do any of those things.”
Finally, I can’t wait to give the stewardess $10 for one measly chicken bacon wrap! I devour it like Jean Valjean after getting out of prison. Ahhhh, food.
Instead of the work I planned on my laptop, I sleep. The interrupted, bobbing head sleep of airplane travel. It passes the time and soon we're landing at my destination, feeling much better after food and sleep.
An entire day has passed and I didn't 'get anything done'. This bugs my highly driven, productive self.
But instead of irritation, I can't help thinking of something our family always says to each other. We picked it up from a cute little Belizian girl we met nine years ago while overland traveling through Mexico and Central America.
(The second girl from the left is our daughter :)
They came to play where we camped one day, and as they ate oranges in the back of our camper she said,
"Veg-eet-uh-bles is good fo' ya!"
We say it whenever we want our kids to do something they don't want to do (replacing 'vegetables' with whatever the unpleasant thing is).
I think it to myself now,
"Travel is good fo' ya!"
And it is. Doing 'hard' things is good for you. Being uncomfortable is good for you. Getting out of your routines, being disrupted, dealing with inconvenience, and a lack of sleep and a lack of food is good for you.
I DON'T want to do it. I DON'T like it. But it IS good for me... IF handled the right way and with the right attitude and frame of mind.
Seeing it as an opportunity for growth, as a chance to practice patience, to deal with stress and discomfort, to practice 'going without' some of life's necessities for a fraction of time, or doing things I don't usually do (like getting up early or talking to strangers) -- doing all these things, with a good attitude, especially when I don't want to do them, help me to become a better, kinder, tougher, more patient person.
It's good for me.