Two planes have been denied me so far this day. Third time, hopefully, is indeed the charm.
This plane is one of those smaller ones I tend to collectively classify as a “puddle jumper.” The destination is Houston, a bit larger than your average “puddle.”
It seems as if we’re about to depart but then the flight attendant informs us of an issue.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I think, not one more delay or cancelled flight today.
It turns out the issue is simply the redistribution of weight in the aircraft. After a reluctant passenger moves from row two to row 12 or so, we’re good to go. We take off.
After an uneventful hour and fifteen minute flight, I’m in Houston, the first leg of my journey to Orlando.
I’ve never been here before. This place is huge.
I head toward the departure gate and along the way, I stop at a restaurant and order a BBQ sandwich. This is Texas after all and when in Rome…
It’s quite tasty (better than it looks in the photo) and in a small acknowledgement to silver linings, I realize I would have missed this meat-lover’s feast had I caught my original flight…or my second one.
On the way here I got to thinking about why missing my flight was so stressful. Now that I’m back in transit, it seems like such a minor issue. Yet at the time, getting on a plane became an all-consuming priority.
My theory: I, as most of us do, fear the unknown. Waiting four hours for a delayed flight is tedium. Waiting, but not knowing when or if you’ll make it on a flight, is panicky. We like to know where we’re going in life, especially in the near term.
But knowing what lies ahead of us is not reality. I realize how blessed I am most of the time to make my connections. Our world, however, isn’t fair: things don’t always go our way and we rarely know what will happen in the next hour, much less the next week, month or year. Today is a reminder of that reality and the larger one, that amidst all this uncertainty, we never travel alone.
I am saved from further ruminations by the announcement that my hopefully last episode of today’s journey is about to board. And so I go.
I have just arrived in Orlando and checked into my hotel room approximately 11 hours since I left the other hotel this morning. I am tired but mostly numb. I remind myself to be grateful that I’m here.
Such is the way of travel that it may take days or even months for me to understand what has happened this day and this trip. Perhaps it means nothing; a trifling inconvenience. No out-of-the-ordinary occurrences happened along the way (although that BBQ sandwich was pretty darned good). No great revelations other than the ad in the airport have hit me. But I suspect more remains to be seen from today than I now can perceive.
I have made it to my destination and for that I am thankful. Not as thankful now, however, as I was when I first heard I had a seat on an outbound plane. That’s sad but oh so typical. Get me out of the crisis and I’m back on autopilot. But if I’ve learned anything today it is this: Even now as I write this, I have another chance to be grateful. To pause and remember the worry and desperation even if I can’t feel them now in the same way I did then. To recall how I felt when I felt deeply. And to not take another breath without giving my Creator thanks for that breath and this whole day however it has gone.
Maybe I don’t need anything more meaningful than that.
To be continued…
If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3 of this series.