The trip started well. No traffic on the freeway, boarding pass printed ahead of time, no luggage to checkin, I made it to gate 55 in record time. Then, the announcement that flight 1931 was being delayed an hour. Great, I thought, I will be able to try out the new egg chairs in the lounge. I had work to do, and did not mind the unexpected extra time. An hour soon turned into two, and then three. I surprised myself with my lack of impatience.
Later, standing outside terminal 4 at LAX, a series of texts from my daughter about her being stuck in traffic left me equally unfazed. When she finally arrived an hour later, I felt only gladness. It took us another two hours to reach her apartment instead of the usual 20 minutes. I watched drivers around us agitate their horns and attempt to make rash moves. Nowhere to go, but hundreds of restless minds needing to be indulged, right now.
I wondered, how come the calmness that had stayed with me for all this time?
It certainly helped that I had practiced sitting earlier in the day.
It certainly helped that I countered thoughts of dislike about flight travel with thoughts of gratitude about the fact that I could travel, and was soon to see my daughter. Thinking about my friends at the assisted living community, who can no longer venture even a few blocks without depending on the company of a willing other. Or the woman at Zen Hospice who was dying of lung cancer, and spent her last days bent over, head cupped in her hands, trying to catch some air. Thinking about this precious life, and nothing to be taken for granted, not even breath or the privilege of walking around a crowded airport.
Gratitude is what had done away with any velleity of impatience.