My recent trip to San Francisco left me feeling mellow and creative. I had to take a deep breath as I stepped back into my ordinary life, and remind myself not to repeat automatic (and stressful) patterns of thought and behavior.
One good antidote to stress is laughter, and when I left the plane, I was reminded of an article I wrote last year after another trip, asking the question, “Why are you running if there’s no prize?” Then I was irritated; now I was amused.
I’m repeating the article here. Hopefully you will laugh, too, and remember that life just doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. friends!
Why Are You Running, If There’s No Prize?
I arrived home from a trip recently and observed the same scenario I see every time I travel. When I get off an airplane, I step on the moving sidewalk and rest my carry-on bag on the moving railing, stepping to the right, just as the instructions say: “stand” on the right, and “walk” on the left.
I’m the only one standing. Everyone else is running.
As I stand there, passenger after passenger rushes by me, dragging luggage, brushing against me, bumping into me. Many of them glare at me; some even make a remark to their companion (not to me, of course – that would be rude).
Now some of these people may be rushing to catch a connecting flight at another gate. But a surprising number of them are at the baggage carousel when I arrive.
On this last trip, I found them all there, looking anxiously up the chute to see if the bags were coming. As I strolled up, the carousel started and my bag came off first.
I picked it up, and I was mean enough to smile and wave to the others as I left.
Why were these people racing when we all know that it takes time to unload baggage? There is no prize for getting there early. Yet they continue to do it – automatically.
When you are racing to get someplace, are you clear if there is a prize and what the prize might be? Where is it coming from?
Or is there some punishment you fear? From whom? And how important is it? Is it really disapproval or something more severe? And if the situation is out of your hands, as it is with the issue of getting luggage unloaded, why should punish yourself? Because that is what you are doing when you undergo unnecessary anxiety.
Even if you miss a connecting flight, there will be another one. Is it worth stressing your body over?
In many cases, you have no control over the situation: the carousel will start when the baggage has been unloaded, traffic will resume when the traffic jam clears, the line to the cashier will move only as fast as it can….
And there’s nothing you can do.
Oh, wait, there is – just breathe. Become a curious observer of your surroundings – buildings, trees, people, too. Who knows what you will find when you are conscious of where you are when your body is actually there.
And then you can collect the only true prize: inner peace.