So there I am, seat 19C on a long haul flight across the Pacific Ocean. It’s 15.5 hours at 36,000 feet. I’ve paid the extra to have no one in front of me so that I can stretch my legs out. Sitting one row behind business class I have the view of the ‘pods’. For those who don’t know, that’s where you want to be, especially on these long hauls. They have the luxury of the foot rest (amongst other things, like real cutlery!) so that by the time you arrive at your destination, your ankles haven’t swelled to the size of your waist.
But wait! I have an idea. I have my carry on suitcase in the overhead bin. I have no one in front of me. So, I do the obvious. I take down the suitcase and put it out in front and proceed to prop my feet up. ‘Create your own pod’ I think to myself. Brilliant!
I’m equipped with all the other flying amenities that I’ve learned to use to my advantage. Melatonin. Eye Mask. Ear Plugs doubled up with noise cancelling headphones overtop. Oh, and my snuggie. Can’t forget about that. And I admit, I made non stop fun of my fiance when he bought the snuggie, only to eat my words when I realized how amazing it is for flying.
Within a few minutes, I’m gone. Off to never never land, hoping to pass at least a third of the flight fast asleep.
Suddenly, I’m jolted awake by an angry flight attendant. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO PUT THAT SUITCASE AWAY, I ALMOST TRIPPED ON IT!!
Now I have to admit, I’m not in the best of moods when woken from sleep generally speaking, and considering the circumstances and her hostility and realizing I was on a plane etc. I had a strong negative reaction to her. Luckily, for my ego/personality, it was kept within the constraints of my own being (although, that’s not totally true, if we consider the zeitgeist). What I mean to say is that I held it all inside. I nodded my head to her request as she stormed down the aisle and I sat there for a moment in silence and cried.
Of course I complied. And I can understand her concern. It was never my intention to create a hazard. I just wanted to sleep. But I spent the better part of the flight sending negative vibes her way. Thinking thoughts like, “What a bitch. She’s just mad because she almost tripped. She could’ve have a heart. She could have let me sleep. She’s just being a stickler.” I kept thinking about how she lacked compassion and had no heart.
Some time later, (remember when I said it was a 15.5 hour flight), I realized something. Something profound. I had no compassion for her. From the moment she’d woken me up, I had closed my heart to her. I saw her as my enemy. I loathed her every time she walked by me. And in that moment I thought of one of the most important Spiritual teachings I’d ever been exposed to…
“The only thing lacking in any situation is what you are not giving.”
I woke up (figuratively speaking this time), right then and there.
Slayed. Humbled. Opened. Awakened.
I forgave myself for my grievance. I forgave her. And by the time I got off the flight I realized her soul’s courage and felt overwhelming gratitude for the assistance she gave me in opening up my closed heart.
Namaste dear Flight Attendant. Thanks for providing some very potent grist for my mill.