Yesterday, I was traveling home to Maine from a winter weekend getaway to the beach. It was my fifth trip in 2019 that required airline travel, and the previous 4 trips were as smooth as silk. No bumps on the way down, and no issue with my first flight from South Carolina to Philadelphia, so I figured I was in the clear for my short connecting flight back to Bangor. However, skies were stormy and a brief delay became a long delay, then became an outright cancellation. I was put on standby for another flight SIX HOURS LATER and found myself in the center of a throng of frustrated, grumbling, stressed-out people.
It's a classic recipe for stress. Weary people who need to get where they need to go, having the rug suddenly pulled out from under them. Trying to figure out where to sleep (a bench? an overpriced hotel?), what to eat, and how to deal with all the loose ends hanging at the destination you won't reach on time. Having no control over what is going to happen. I could feel other people's cortisol seeping into my pores.
I decided to surrender (anything else is an illusion, anyway) and went in search of a spot to get off my feet. I found this funky lounge area with graffiti-style art on the walls and multicolored beanbag chairs scattered around. As I sank into a large green one, I felt a sense of relief to finally be comfortable. I felt the distinct shift from tension to ease, and I realized there was nothing I really needed in the world at that moment.
Except a shower.
I'd opted not to shower before heading to the airport early that morning, and now it was late afternoon. The soonest I'd be home was close to midnight. The more I tuned in to feeling unclean, the more it bothered me. My thoughts started to churn on how much BETTER being stuck in Philly would be if I had only washed my hair. If I'd just taken a shower, I'd look and feel so much better in this mess I was in.
The more I allowed those thoughts, the deeper the tension set in, blocking the good feeling of the flow I'd found when I got comfortable a short time earlier. I had to catch myself and steer myself back into a right-minded perspective, that the shower was only a matter of hours away and I was fine.
Fast forward to the end of the saga: I was eventually released from beanbag chair purgatory. I converted from standby to a real seat, I flew home through high winds and major turbulence, I fell asleep still nauseated from motion sickness, and I woke up this morning to have, you guessed it, that coveted shower.
How amazing does a shower feel when you've waited extra, needed it more? Of course, hot water and soap feel good on skin that needs washing, but it's not really about that. It's about the release of struggle. It's about the release of tension. It's about the gratitude of receiving that which you have been waiting for.
I know these contrasts from my fasting practice, because eating after a fast has a similar vibe. The food is delicious, of course, but it's also eaten with extra appreciation, a sprinkle of gratitude. It's a lens I strive to look through in every aspect of my life.
So remember it's not about the soap, it's not about the food, it's not about the weight. It's always about energy. It's always about resistance versus flow. Release the energy of struggle and embrace the energy of gratitude. It is what makes me the Poster Girl for Contentment, and it's what makes my life one of Unbelievable Freedom.