Delayed

Dear Keatsway,

I sit in a black leather plushy chair of an oversized waiting room. I am not sure when I’ll be done but I imagine it will be soon. Until then I’ll pass the time writing you a letter.

I’m in a car dealership (for repairs, not car buying), but if I blink I could be back at my gate in O’Hare. Except here there is free coffee–arguably not as good as Starbucks–and there are cars instead of airplanes on display.

Three weeks ago, en route from Toronto, I sat on a leather stool next to a rain splattered window drinking Argo tea, pen and journal in hand, looking out at aircraft carriers. I wished the moment could last forever. Someday soon I hope to be waiting in an airport on my way to see you. I have not, however, always felt this way about delays or waiting itself.

I feel like I am always waiting –to find my next apartment, to pursue my dreams, for the workday to be over, for the weekend to come, and then for the next weekend. Waiting for the answers to my increasingly long list of questions about the meaning of life, and learning to be OK with the space in between. The space where I act out several possibilities to my question, or sit back and wonder what my next move should be.

Waiting in an airport has no clear starting or ending point. You just can’t predict when the delay will happen and you have to be prepared to change plans and be flexible. To remain undeterred by a detour and not waste energy being angry or frustrated. To become creative and spontaneous with your time and your new plan of action.

After a year of plane delays I have finally discovered the secret to not becoming discouraged by them–accepting them completely, and finding a pleasant way to wait it out. Sometimes it’s as simple as staying nourished with healthy food, finding a quiet place to rest, discovering a new perspective, and seizing the opportunity to work on cherished pastimes–like reading or writing. Always ready to pick up everything at a moment’s notice when the plane finally does depart, and practicing patience and fortitude when it doesn’t.

As I put my plans of graduate studies, and living abroad on hold, I am trying to apply the same lesson I learned here. To decide not to waste energy on discouragement or resisting reality. Instead accept it as a necessary part of the process, embody grace and peace, and be inventive and endlessly flexible.

Maybe this delay is reminding me that it’s the journey and not the destination that counts? Keatsway, how do you handle delays?

Yours with best wishes,

Brightstar

“When the world feels all jittery . . .”

sunsethighway

Dear Keatsway,

On weeks when my head is spinning with too many ideas and I can’t seem to sit still, I try to remember everything I’ve read to somehow put into words what seems incomprehensible inside my head:

When the world feels all jittery, like it just quit smoking, and the questions of my soul start to sound like a heavy metal concert gone awry, I find I must . . .    -Tamara Park, Sacred Encounters

Except the must part doesn’t apply to me here. Park wrote that travel stills her, but for me I find that travel just unleashes a pandora’s box, igniting a desire to plan more trips instead of plan my life.  And at this moment that is precisely what I don’t need. But the jitteriness and soul questions and thoughts beginning to sound like a heavy metal concert gone awry, that I can relate to perfectly.

These last few weeks my thoughts been swimming with what ifs and I long for a doable action, not a detour, to propel me in the right direction. The idea of what I am supposed to do with the rest of my life is overwhelming and suffocating at times. In those moments every second seems to be laced with an extraordinary weight.

But there are still the hours, aren’t there? One and then another, and you get through that one and then, my god, there’s another.  –Michael Cunningham, The Hours

What if every plan I thought would be in place by now, as I stand at the precipice of my twenties, has not come to pass, what then? Do I make a new plan? And what if I discover that I am more attached to “the plan” than living out the extraordinary ordinariness of my life?

We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep-it’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the mornings; we hope, more than anything, for more.  –Michael Cunningham, The Hours

readinginhighplaces

When my heart is heavy with unfulfilled dreams and uncertainty, all I can do is crawl under the covers in the fetal position until I don’t feel anything else. Eventually I come up for air and when I do I open a book.  I escape  through other character’s stories until the wee hours  of the morning pass and I can no longer keep my eyes open For years I’ve been escaping–sometimes referred to as taking a book binge–through dystopic literature and fantasy when my own life became too vulnerable and uncertain.  Maybe somehow by reading about another life, time and place I can pick up some extra bravery and navigation skills to manage my own.

In the meant time I need to acknowledge the incredible gift of being accepted into a graduate program in England. Whether or not I accept, defer for a year (how does one put one’s dreams on hold for an entire year?), or completely change my mind about it entirely –due to hefty price tags, doubling student loans, lack of scholarships, lack of parental approval– this acceptance is a good thing and it can lead to open doors in places I hadn’t expected.

None of this trepidation and decision making will go away anytime soon; this I know. Not for a while. But in the meantime I got this post down on paper. The one I never thought I would publish. And I discovered my own way of stilling my mind, conquering the hours, and remaining undefeated by unfinished dreams: following the stories of strong, female characters  who have conquered fire breathing dragons (or their equivalent) when I need inspiration to defeat my own.

xo, Brightstar