Last summer, our family vacation was to Yellowstone National Park. While I’ve written a few posts on some learnings from that experience, one small detail that I’ve left out was what happened at the very beginning of our trip. Airports ‘require’ that you arrive at security at least 2 hours prior to departure. I use the word ‘require’ loosely because I don’t think it always takes that long. Granted, I’m a quasi-rule follower, so I try to get there in time, but I don’t force it. My wife, on the other hand, takes the 2-hour requirement as gospel and will move Heaven and Earth to arrive at the security check-in prior to the 2-hour rule with her license in one hand and her shoes in the other. Since we’re married, I always believe in compromising, so we arrive prior to the 2-hour rule.
But with the Yellowstone trip, something happened. That morning, we entered into some sort of time vortex that seemed to sop up precious minutes off the clock as we scrambled to get everything together and in the vehicle, including the kids. No one had thought about a) my coffee addiction and b) the van that was almost out of gas, which led to c) 2 stops that only served to exasperate the time problem. Upon arriving at the airport, we were greeted by a friendly TSA agent screaming at us that the lines in this section were full, so we needed to walk to a further checkpoint to proceed through security. Upon arriving at this checkpoint and taking a quick breath, we realized we all brought our water bottles…and they were still full. And we all know that we can’t bring full water bottles through security. So, Keri jumped out of line toting the bottles to find a place to ditch the water, but keep the nice bottles. The vortex continued to suck her in as a place to dump the water proved elusive for her as I watched her walk to and fro trying to find a receptacle. Precious minutes later, she came back, and they were empty… I didn’t ask any questions.
We made it through security, found our gate (at the other end of the terminal no doubt) and proceeded there with a purpose. Each of us winded by the time we arrived at Gate ZZZ999, we basically walked right onto the plane without a minute to spare. They shut the airplane door behind me as the pilot kicked the wheels into gear. We navigated to our seats thankful to have escaped the vortex with our lives.
A few weeks ago, my 15-year-old daughter, Kya, had a piece of her artwork in the local art show. Our family piled into the van and meandered our way to the ArtSpace. This non-profit organization exists to showcase the visual arts of our region. Upon arriving, we slowly and thoughtfully ambled our way through the exhibit. We stopped at each piece, seeking to fully understand and appreciate the fullness of the artists’ renderings. We allowed our eyes to gaze at each detail the piece offered. We noticed how each work made us feel, qualifying our likes and dislikes. We spent time trying to figure out the meaning of the work. From highly lifelike portraits to abstract collections of triangles, we allowed our brains to be engaged and stimulated by the interpretations. Needless to say, Kya’s piece was especially magnificent.
Airports and Art Museums. Two settings that offer and complete paradox of one another. In one setting, you’re in a mad rush, trying to escape the gate as you make your way to your final destination. In the other, slowness is key. Stopping to appreciate each moment is paramount to extracting the fullness of the setting.
So, how are you living your life? That trip to the airport: stressed out, winded, not stopping to see or experience anything of our surroundings. Or like an art museum: slow, peaceful, admiring the scenery each step of the way.
I’m embarrassed to admit that much of my life feels a bit like an airport. I rush to and fro trying to make this meeting on time, not be late to that appointment, not disappoint this client, not show up late for an engagement, be there for my kids game or event.
And in the hustle and bustle of it all, I fear I’m missing out on the small moments. Feelings of relaxation, creativity, and inspiration are few and far between. And, if you’re honest with yourself, perhaps you are too. Busy that is. Airport-like.
But it’s not an excuse. It’s a motivation to get better. It’s a reminder to slow down and appreciate the fullness of the moment. To capture the scenery on your mind’s eye. To strengthen the beat and passion of your heart’s purpose. Life doesn’t have to be as hectic as an airport. It can be as peaceful as an art museum. It takes intentionality. It takes work. But my guess is…it’s worth it.
I’m slowing down…will you join me?