On flexibility and the potential for delight
The forced flexibility of standby flight awakens you to unexpected discovery and delight, if you allow yourself to open to them.
You don’t know if you’re going to get onto a flight, in many cases. You certainly don’t get to choose your seat most of the time. You learn quickly to control what you can, and to let go of the rest. You realise that instant coffee is fine, really. And you discover, sometimes, what Really Bad looks like. That’s not instant coffee, that’s wandering an unfamiliar airport with no idea when or how you’re going to get where you’re going. Then when you’re forced to accept things you didn’t think would be acceptable, you start to understand what your Musts are and what things are really just Maybes.
As your sense of requirements bends and shifts, you discover things in the gaps. I thought I’d fly from Savannah to Atlanta and realised that was silly. The resulting drive was an exhilarating, unexpected reminder of how much I love driving, and how that love began on those very roads. I thought I’d be in and out of SFO reasonably smoothly, and my lengthy stay showed me how to take delight in a pour-over coffee from Blue Bottle. I also discovered the yoga room, adding to my parallel adventure of breath and physical discovery throughout the month. I had no idea what I would do in Asheville other than appreciate the airport, and my eyes were opened to a world of slam poetry where people Just Got It and I felt the refreshing breeze of that shared understanding. And I found a Book Spiral in Seattle I never knew existed.
These delights would remain hidden if not for the forced flexibility. If the universe had allowed me to follow my pre-drawn plans, I would not have gotten to relish that drive. I would not have appreciated that Blue Bottle coffee as deeply as I did. I would not have climbed the Book Spiral. While there is comfort in the familiar, preconceptions and plans can block delights that one could not have conceived on their own.
Maybe it’s because I lack imagination, but I prefer to believe it is because the world is much too big for anyone, even me, to corral into a useful plan. I had to learn to keep delight from slipping into delirium, and luckily this learning came quickly in SFO. Having made the mistake early, I could get on with not having to make it anymore. And the world opened to me.
Next up, I visited Los Angeles, a place I have quite a lot of baggage and preconceptions over.