Last year I took a long overdue trip to Hawaii with my husband, and I thought about a few things I learned while we were flying over the Pacific Ocean.
Put on your own oxygen mask first
It is not selfish to take care of yourself. If you can’t breathe, you won’t be able to help those around you. This isn’t only literal. You need room to breathe in your life. If you are so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs and wants at the expense of your own, you will eventually run out of the oxygen you need to keep going. Sometimes it is necessary to be ‘selfish’ and take a moment to catch your breath. This might seem impossible given the number of things that need to get done, but it is as necessary as putting on your own oxygen mask first.
Limit excess baggage
The more I travel, the less stuff I take with me, because I end up arriving at my destination cranky when I’ve been schlepping a bunch of stuff around. When I can get by with one carry-on bag that fits easily in the overhead bin, I am usually much more pleasant to be around. This requires carefully choosing what I really need and what I can leave behind. Life is similar. There’s a tendency to “over-pack,” but we travel through life so much better when we are able to leave behind hurts, disappointments, and excess possessions.
It’s not always about the journey
On that 6-hour flight from San Diego to Hawaii, it became quite clear that sometimes it really IS about the destination, not the journey. While there are plenty of times when we do need to find beauty and meaning in the journey, sometimes we just need to find a way to make the journey more tolerable. Just as a really long flight goes by faster with a companion to help pass the time, we need to find ways to make it through the tedious things in life that lead us to better goals. This might mean finding a friend to exercise with so that reaching the goal of being healthier doesn’t seem so tedious. It may look like listening to an audiobook or podcast so the commute doesn’t feel so long. Or it could be asking someone to sit with you while you have a medical procedure done so that you can be restored to better health. Because sometimes it takes a very long journey to get to the destination that eventually makes it all worthwhile.
Pay attention to the security briefing
On this flight, the pilot requested that we pay attention to the flight attendants’ security briefing, even the frequent fliers. So I did for a change. Guess what? I learned where they keep the life raft! How often do we go through life not paying attention and missing what might be good to know? So pay attention, and you just might learn something new.
Germs are everywhere, so be cautious. But they probably won’t kill you, either.
I’m pretty careful about protecting myself from germs while flying – frequent hand washing, touching as little as possible, and keeping my hands away from my face. I’m not quite a germaphobe, but I definitely lean in that direction. And my husband calls airplanes flying petri dishes. But you know what? At some point you need to put down the hand sanitizer and realize you’ve done all you can. Catching a cold on the plane is a pain, but not the end of the world. So relax and enjoy your novel, even if someone two rows away sneezes.