Truly, there’s nothing like travel to bring out your inner control freak or your inner Zen. No matter how you slice it, you are simply not in charge when traveling. You have to let go and let it be.
Sitting back and enjoying the ride
My daughter and I recently tagged along with my husband on his recent business trip to Seattle. The chance to visit a city that was brand new to us was a big draw. But if I’m honest with you, the fact that Seattle is the setting for our favorite TV show, Grey’s Anatomy, was our biggest motivator for making a cross-country trip for a two-day visit.
While neither of us is a “master traveler” like my husband, we do get around a fair amount, so I wasn’t surprised when my daughter offered a pearl of wisdom: “It’s funny when you think about it. All you really have to do when you’re traveling is show up on time with the right stuff. After that (to quote our pilot), you just have to ‘sit back and enjoy the ride.’”
Feeling out of control
Because we had done both of those things, we were feeling pretty Zen as we waited for our flight to depart. But it turns out that “enjoying the ride” is easier when your plane actually takes off.
Our flight was delayed by weather. As our wait on the tarmac extended past the duration of our layover, you could feel the tension in our neighboring passengers escalate. As people around us started speculating about arrival times and later flights, it was tempting to follow them down these rabbit holes of worry.
In times like these, I’m always equally surprised and grateful when my inner yogi shows up. As I listened to the chatter of less-than-optimal “Plan Bs” swirl around me, I thought to myself, “There’s absolutely nothing we can do to manage or control this situation. We’re simply going to have to respond to it as it unfolds.”
When you can’t let it go, let it be
This was the perfect situation to lean on one of my favorite quotes by Jon Kabat-Zin:
“It’s not a matter of letting go – you would if you could. Instead of ‘let go’ we should probably say ‘let it be.'” – Jon Kabat-Zin
I definitely did not want to miss our connection. In fact, if you had told me to “let go” of this aversion, I would have been incredibly annoyed. After all, my daughter and I had been really excited about our silly Grey’s Anatomy trip for weeks.
But, sitting there in that airplane seat, it was also clear that going to war with reality was futile. Whether or not we made our connection was completely out of our hands. I also definitely did not want to spend the two-hour flight worrying and fretting and making plans that I may or may not need. My inner control freak didn’t stand a chance against the lure of my inner Zen. I took a deep breath and got comfortable with the truth that there was nothing to do but “let it be” and be receptive to whatever life brought our way. Even if that turned out to be two days in Chicago.
“Letting it be” turned out to be possible. I settled back in my seat and enjoyed both the ride and my book.
Experiencing unexpected delights
Because the pilot was able to make up a little time in the air, because our connection gate was just down the hall from our arrival gate, and because we ran like fools, we managed to make our connecting flight to Seattle.
When we arrived we discovered more than a beautiful, friendly and interesting city. We discovered that we had added to the “right stuff” packed in our bags. We spent two days continuing to “let it be” as we had on the first leg of our flight.
Rather than trying to plan out each day, we chose to let each day unfold as it did. We took advantage of a missed ferry to ride the ferris wheel that towered over the waterfront. When the Space Needle was sold out, we wandered into the Chihuly glass exhibit next door that we knew nothing about and experienced the highlight of our trip.
In short, by choosing to “let it be” and going with the flow, we saw and did even more than we had dreamed of when we concocted this trip. (And, yes, we got to see Meredith Grey’s house!)
If you’re struggling to let go in your life, would like to share your fears, worries, and struggles in a safe environment, and become the YOU you were created to be, why not book a one-on-one Spiritual Direction session with Amy.