I’m at the airport and my head is hurting. It’s a tension headache that says, “You have 5 hours + 13 hours + 4 hours of flight time.” And this does not include the layover in the other two airports.
I travel. I came out of the womb traveling. I have traveled to different continents and back. I have crossed the Atlantic with my parents, before I even entered the earth realm. I am a traveler. I travel through time, space and energies. I travel and travel and travel some more. [By the way, this paragraph is my traveling mantra – my way of saying ALL IS WELL WITH THE WORLD AND ME IN IT].
Before leaving for the airport I was watching the CBS news program Sunday Morning. The segment focused on Gloria Gayner. This Grammy Award winner didn’t just sing, she saaang this 1978 timeless hit I Will Survive.
At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong, and I learned how to get along
And so you're back from outer space
I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second you'd be back to bother me
The lyrics are actually funny. Outer space, changing locks, pain in the anus…YES! Some of us can relate to those two stanzas. But I am moved by the first two lines in the first stanza, because there is a thickness hovering over my chest right now – anxious, sickly jitters traveling to my frontal lobe and causing a nagging ache.
“Yep, I am petrified to fly across continents today…but then I thought of you.” I have mentally moved from my mantra [above] to thinking about people who offer me warmth and a bit of humor during turbulent anxious moments. I believe we can train our thoughts, and in turn train our bodies. [I did not say I have mastered this. I am simply saying, I believe this to be true.]
FREEZE – I am being asked a question by a man sitting next to me in the airport.
Lapse in time…lapse lapse lapse…and I am now on the plane [in the air].
I met a man named Daniel [who evidently was watching me type the first half of this blog]. He is with his family, and they are on their way to Madrid Spain. He turned to me and asked, “What are you writing?” I went blank. His question appeared so utterly difficult to answer. It’s an interview question, “What is your 10-year vision for the department and how do you propose to manifest this vision?” Do I respond honestly, “I’m typing a blog”??? The 4 words seem insufficient, but I told myself that this blog is part of my truth-telling experience.
I responded, “a blog”
At this point I feel like I owe this stranger an explanation, although he didn’t push for one. I found myself covering my mouth again. Damn it Celie, do not regress! (for those who have read the previous blog)
And then I said, “A teaching blog.” It’s not quite that, but that’s what stumbled out of my mouth. He asked, “What do you teach?”
And I started to share, "Public speaking…China…immersion program...students…barely know mandarin…my life is a mess…what was I thinking…I am having a midlife crisis” (don’t worry, I didn’t say all of those things). Daniel alluded to my uncertainty though. He asked if I have taught before. With great certainty I said, “20 years.”
“Well then you got this.” And the conversation opened up.
Engagement is a seasoning. And with any seasoning, it offers flavoring to the food we eat. I remember this phrase from my new curious friend (no longer stranger) who every so often turned to his curly-haired daughter who was holding a purple ‘my little pony’ [Side note: I had a ‘my little pony’ when I was a child. It was also purple]. Daniel said, “There is a strong correlation between humility and humiliation.” Suddenly he transformed into my brother Len (again, referencing previous blog).
Daniel: “You can either lean in and be humbled by the experience or you can fight it every step of the way and walk in humiliation.”
Lean into love
Lean lean lean – body yourself forward, cock your head to an angle, perk your ears and lean into the experience. He humbly engaged.
Daniel mentioned that he taught college students for one quarter – web design. I made a comment about the one quarter, and then he said he ended up marrying one of his students. He mentioned there was a 2-year difference in age and then he cracked a joke, “Never put a 26 year old in a classroom…” And 15 years later, 2 children and a wife who successfully works in web design.
Lean in. Lean into the experience. He told me, “You seem to be off to a great start.” His statement co-signs what my twin text me, before I mounted the plane, “Fill the space with your presence, Sis. China is in for a treat.”
Back to Gloria Gayner - Gloria, whose name is rooted in Glory, which is rooted in a number of praise worthy meanings like splendor of God, praise offering, magnificence.
So, I am allowed to be anxious for a few minutes. Then I think of my covering, my loved ones, my mantras, my new friend Daniel who was there to remind me to lean in…lean all the way in and take up space, magnify and glory in this moment. I’m not here to survive. I’m here to thrive in this leaning in journey.