Friday, January 16, 2009

The Space In Between

My flight today was scheduled to leave at 10:50am, and we were
actually on track to take off a little bit early. The plane pulled back from the gate and turned toward the runway, then stopped. They needed to de-ice the runway first, and found a mechanical issue on the plane in the process. We returned to the gate, filed off the aircraft, and waited a couple of hours until they could get another plane for us. Quite a few were inconvenienced, particularly due to missing connections, but it was a good group of folks. The airline employees remained friendly and professional while working efficiently to address the problems, and the demeanor of the passengers generally ranged from mere quiet sighs of some due to the delay, to happy laughter of others they filled the time with conversation. It was nice to have that time together with such people.

In our hurry-driven culture, such events are too seldom so relaxed. Too often we fret, as if that were capable simply by worrying of changing the situation for the better. I like Heather Ryan's perspective at such times, in Why I Love Traffic Jams. She references an article which says peak-time travelers spend an extra 38 hours per year in traffic jams, then re-frames that "wasted" time. "Too often traveling is just the quickest route between two points. We forget the vast spaces in-between." I want to look more often and more deeply into those vast spaces.

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