The theme for today is obstacles – and removal of them, hopefully. Obstacles of all sizes happen every day – how we respond to them can make or break a day. I have spent the last 4-6 weeks trying to overcome the mental obstacles that have prevented me from truly getting excited about this trip I’m taking today. I received a teaching from my lama a few days ago that was clearly an effort to purify obstacles in my way. My friend and client, Marissa Heisel and her dear husband Peter encouraged me to see my hesitation about embarking on this journey not as a bad omen, but as the awareness that the outer journey may be to Nepal, but the inner journey will be profound and that is causing the trepidation. Absolutely plausible. And when you’re about to travel halfway around the world, you do everything you can to prepare, so as to minimize obstacles. But there really is only so much you can do. So, it is with my most optimistic mindset that I accept this morning’s obstacles and hope that we’re getting everything out of the way early so that the rest of the trip is smooth.
For example, I can’t control weather. Try as I might, I have not yet figured out how to turn snowflakes to rainbows or 60mph winds to light breezes. So when I briefly lost power last night as the cold front moved through Frederick, MD, I knew I was going to be in for a ride today. I wasn’t even surprised when, only a mile from the entrance ramp to Rt. 15 I had to find another way to get to it because the road in front of me was closed. I was grateful that I had started out a little early with a little fuck-up time built in to the drive. But I did start praying that that would be the end of the road obstacles, even as the snow began to fly through the air and the road dampened (vs. froze). I could not have predicted the construction barrel in the middle of Rt. 28 as I closed in on the hotel my car is calling home for the next 2 weeks, but I am VERY grateful to the West Virginia pickup truck driver who swerved in such a way that I figured out what he was doing and why in enough time to avoid crashing into it myself.
The front desk clerk at the hotel where my car is parked attempted to throw a landmine in my path – at first explaining that I had to call ahead to reserve a space on the 4:30am shuttle to the airport and that the shuttle was full. But when I kept my tone and expression light, asking her to help me call a cab, HER tone changed and suddenly there was a space available.
It wasn’t until I was in the terminal and headed to TSA check in that I realized the black bag on my arm was not my bag at all, but that of one of the other passengers. This is where I am abundantly grateful that instead of being buried in my phone or laptop, I listened to the conversation happening around me in the shuttle and knew that the family was flying United to Mexico. My lungs were brutally punished as I ran the entire length of the Dulles Airport terminal between Delta and United to find that the family had not yet checked their bags. The poor teenagers were a little freaked at how freaked I was, as I ran up to them proclaiming that they had my bag, and apologetic – it was MY MISTAKE – when we made the trade. Gratitude that THAT obstacle was averted was profound as I stood in front of the TSA agent huffing and puffing in a desperate attempt to regain my composure before trying to get through check-in.
But the joy continued! I arrived at security, the ONLY PERSON on line (momentarily), and explained to the agent that I have a battery-operated water purifier in my bag. He recommended I remove it from my bag so that it would be easy to look at. Still heaving heavily, I was glad to produce the wand that will keep me from getting sick from the Nepali water, but apparently the agent I told did not play telephone with the guy running the scanner 5 feet away and he had to ask me anyway. Thankfully, the agent did not pursue it any further and I still had time to get to my gate.
I gratefully bounded down to the tram – with my boarding pass, the RIGHT black duffle bag, my water purifier and the plethora of electronic gadgets I decided to take with me at the last minute when the tablet jumped out of my bag, onto the floor in front of me. As I removed my backpack to correct the obviously opening zipper, the rest of the contents of my backpack joined my tablet, all over the floor of the airport. Feigning uncaffeination, I gathered everything and stuffed it back in I decided I needed a minute to gather myself as well, reclaiming a normal breath rhythm, wiping the sweat from my brow, wondering if we were approaching the end of the obstacles for this trip.
Right now, the DC – JFK crew just arrived, so we’re running a little late, but thankfully, Delta builds in fuckup time too and I padded that with a little EXTRA fuckup time for when I arrive at JFK to find my carrier to Kathmandu.
Wow… holy shit. I’m going to Kathmandu. Nothing like a Laurel & Hardy style run of obstacles to put the inner obstacles into perspective.
All before 6am…