Just Breathe: revelations during travel

When you travel often it’s easy to take the little things for granted. On a recent trip to Hong Kong, I often found myself growing frustrated at the simplest things.

I was not thrilled to be in Hong Kong in the first place… during this trip everything just seemed to go wrong. You can read about that more soon! While I was there, I always had somewhere to be and little time to get there.

This thought come to mind as I was rushing to catch my flight from Hong Kong to Taipei. Now, I had shown up to the airport 13 hours before my flight- plenty of time one might say for someone who was always in a rush. Well, I got done with my business and wanted to catch an early flight back to Taiwan. I was scheduled for a 9:30 pm departure; I wanted on the 1:30pm flight. China Airlines thankfully gave me the last seat available on the flight and informed me that boarding would begin in 15 minutes.

As I swiftly walked through the airport, I took care not to run anyone down. I silently was wishing people would move and get out of my way… I had a flight to catch and people were causally moseying down the walkways as if they had all the time in the world. I did not have all the time in the world. I had to get through immigration and run to my gate before I missed it! Just because they were not in any hurry gave them no right to block my way and be slow…

I found a moving walkway which is supposed to speed things up as you move down long stretches of the corridor. However, it was bottle necked and the entrance was filled with people just standing there. Blocking the path. Taking up my precious time. In my way. So many thoughts flooded my mind. Was I so important- my time so much more valuable than these people? Well, as anyone who flies often would attest to, the airport brings out the worst in people. Human nature takes over; our self-importance and arrogance makes its way to the surface every time.

“Take a deep breath.” I told myself.

Traveling is all about the experience. A time to see something new. Feel something new. Sense something new. Traveling brings about an air of excitement that cannot be matched by much else. Just because I find myself at an airport traveling more than most people I know doesn’t mean that those around me travel as often. It could very well be the first time some of them are flying. It could be the first time they are seeing moving walk ways. They are taking in all the excitement, the adventure, and the sights. They are experiencing the awe that I felt as a young child when I took my first international flights. I realized just how much I take traveling and technology for granted. In America we have everything… I grew up with the latest and greatest technology. So a moving walkway is nothing to be excited about… escalators are not hard to step on to. It is second nature.

I realized that as a traveler I have lost the sensation of awe. I have forgotten what it means to have the ability to journey to new places. I have taken it all for granted. As I stopped and took that breath, I found myself smiling. I put myself in the shoes of those travelers around me. Thinking how it must be for them to travel. Now, I don’t know if it was their first time flying or first time in an airport… some might even call me ignorant for making such an assumption. But it’s not so hard to imagine that it could be the first time for many travelers. It helped to put things back into perspective and brought me back to reality. Not everyone has the same privilege to travel as I do. Not everyone has that ability to just get up and go wherever they want whenever they want.

This experience made me realize that we need to get over our self-importance and start putting ourselves in the shoes of those around us. Our time is not any more important than those around us. When we are flying, we are going to the same place. Do you really have to be the first person on the airplane? Do we really have to get angry with people around us for walking just a bit too slow? Do we have to be annoyed because the flight attendants are not giving us sole attention?

Next time I fly I will do my best to let myself go back to those feelings of awe and inspiration. Let the journey inspire me as I venture into the land unknown. Take in all the sights and sounds no matter how frustrating they may be… It’s all part of the adventure. Who is with me? Rather than getting annoyed, laugh it off! Think about how much worse it could be; perhaps not being able to go on that journey you are about to embark on?

Happy travels!

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