Fog, Friends and Funerals

Have you ever found yourself getting frustrated by events you couldn’t control?  Perhaps you’ve been stuck in traffic on your way to an important meeting or discovered the person before you in the public toilet used the last 3 sheets of paper.  Most of us have felt frustrated, stressed or just plain exasperated at times and it’s perfectly normal human behaviour.

So what’s all this got to do with fog and especially with funerals?

I recently travelled interstate to run some team training for a client of mine.  My schedule is  normally pretty full so rather than waste time flying the day before and spending another night away from my family I’d booked myself on the first flight the next day. This still got me to my destination with a few hours to spare and gave me the opportunity to observe the teams annual convention before I took the stage.

[Side note: one of the drawbacks of where my wife and I have chosen to live is there’s no decent flights out of our local airport for business people. This necessitates almost a 2 hour drive to the next airport to catch early morning flights]

In order to catch my early flight I left home at 3:30am to make the drive to the airport. I checked in and headed to the lounge, with enough time to spare for a coffee and some fruit (I don’t eat bagels or danishes!).

As it got closer to boarding time I saved my blog post, shut down my laptop and started walking to the gate.  As I got to the gate the disinterested person on the public address system announced a 40 minute delay of our flight’s departure due to fog at our destination.

Great!  Why couldn’t they have announced this before I packed up and walked 500 metres to the gate?

Ah well. Nothing for it than to trudge back to the lounge feeling frustrated that I’d been cheated out of 30 minutes extra sleep. At least a 40 minute delay meant I’d still be ontime for my training session to start, but only just!

I ordered another double shot macchiato and sat down for a bit more blogging.

No sooner had I started typing than over the PA comes that all too familiar voice with another announcement – our flight was now delayed 1 hour 40 minutes! I couldn’t believe it. I’d gotten out of bed in single digit temperatures (bit of a theme lately!), in the dark, without breakfast and without seeing my 2 1/2 year old daughter before I left. I’d driven over an hour and a half so I arrived with time to spare, only to sit in the lounge for another 2 hours before my flight even boarded! This would also now get me to my destination late for my training session. Oh well, no point feeling sorry for myself. I sent a message to my client over 1000 kilometres away to advise my predicament.

“All good, don’t stress” was the reply.

Alright then, time for another macchiato!  ‘At least I’ll get some writing time in’ I thought to myself.

Finally it came time to board the plane. My friends know that I’m not a great air traveler. Not because I’m afraid of flying or get claustrophobic or anything. I just hate having to sit still for so long, trapped in a giant aluminium cigar with 200 other people for a couple of hours! For that reason, I always sit in the aisle seat so I can get up and go for a walk whenever I like.

I reached into my pocket and fished out my boarding pass. What? 10B? B!? That’s a middle seat! Bloody hell! I always sit in the aisle. How’d I end up with a middle seat?

Great. This trip is turning into a disaster!

I slumped into the middle seat next to a fly-in-fly-out miner (I know because he didn’t shut up for the whole trip) and a skinny woman who must have sensed the mood I was in because she put her earphones in and stared at the seatback the entire flight.

The captain duly informed us we were taxiing on time for our new departure and the fog was forecast to lift in time for our arrival at our destination. Some good news at last!  All I had to do was survive the almost two hour flight and I’d be back on the ground and back in action.

I felt the plane slow as the pilot prepared for our approach to the airport. ‘Almost there’ I thought. My blood pressure was coming down.  “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. We’ve been advised by air traffic control that visibility is less than 1000 metres. Unfortunately, ….”

I didn’t hear much after he said “unfortunately” because I’ve come to know that whatever follows that word is almost never good news.

The crux of the matter was we couldn’t land because the fog hadn’t lifted. The ‘fortunately’ was that we had plenty of fuel on board and could circle for over an hour before having to return to our home airport. Yay! (only a hint of sarcasm there)

So circle we did. As we did so, my blood pressure went up. I looked at my watch and thought ‘I’m not even going to be there for the end of my session time, let alone the start!’

To make matters worse, there was no way I could let my client know what was going on unless I was willing to get arrested for using my mobile during the flight!

Anyway, the fog lifted and we eventually touched down almost 3 1/2 hours later than scheduled! By this time I was super stressed. Could I even still run the training? Would my client be angry? Would I have to turn around and fly home, wasting a whole day and not even getting paid?  All this when I could have slept longer, seen my daughter, done something more productive, been less stressed and generally had a good day instead of this crappy experience!

The minutes dragged by til I was allowed to turn on my mobile.

Finally! Mobile switched on and waiting to send a message, I see an email come in from a friend of mine. I knew he’d just taken a last minute trip overseas but I didn’t know why as I hadn’t spoken to him for a while (yes, saw it on good old Facebook).

The subject of the email was simply ‘I buried my father yesterday’.

My heart stopped.

As I read my buddy’s email, he explained how his father had gone outside his farmhouse early one morning to shoot the rabbit that had been eating his seedlings…until he slipped on the mossy pavers, dropping the rifle which discharged and shot him through the chest.

I sat in my seat while the other passengers urgently tried to drag their bags and coats down from the overhead lockers. I vaguely saw people staring wild-eyed into smart phones and tablets, desperately searching for messages and emails as they strained against each other to get off the aluminium cigar and into the terminal building, to be whisked away by cabs and buses and perhaps even loved-ones.

Loved ones. Mine were at home. Probably just enjoying a few rays of winter sunshine in our back garden together. My daughter no doubt on her slide or protesting loudly at the fact my wife would be asking her to wipe her hands before eating her fruit. I replayed the morning’s events and my emotions during the past few hours. I thought about my anger at the weather, the airline, my travel agent, my lack of sleep, my wasted time.

At no point that morning had I been grateful. For my health. For technology. For my client and the opportunity to work with them. I’d certainly not been grateful for the coffee or the fact we’d arrived safely at our destination, be it a few hours late.

I got off the plane and messaged my wife ‘OMG did you see J’s email??’

My wife’s reply was simply ‘yes, I wept’.

‘I love you honey. Tell G that daddy loves her too’ was my response.

When was the last time you felt grateful? More importantly, when’s the last time you expressed that gratitude to the people around you? The people that matter to you? The people you’d miss if they were gone? Who add value to your life?  What about the health you have, the experiences you’ve lived through and the ones yet to come your way?

You see, I was so busy feeling sorry for myself and my ridiculous plight that I’d forgotten about the things that really matter. My family, my health, the opportunity to be, to live.

Pro tip: make it a habit every day to give thanks. Show your gratitude to yourself, to those around you and watch your attitude improve and your results follow. By being thankful for what we have, we attract more of it.  My mate said it perfectly in his email about losing his dad, “People deserve good friends.  As my brother pointed out to me yesterday, every human has good in them.  We owe it to them to cut through their facade and celebrate the good in them.  Tell someone what they mean to you.  Because believe me, telling a wooden box is just too late.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your interest.

Yours in gratitude.

Warrick

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