Reflection: As we lift off the runway on the flight home from Toronto to Saskatoon, something seems wrong. On our ascent, we level out too quickly, even drop a bit in elevation, and the sounds are off.
Within five minutes of take-off, the pilot announces a malfunction with the nose gear on the plane. It appears to be locked in the down position and refuses to retract. (Better that than the other way around!) He intends to return to Toronto after calculating how much fuel we need to burn off before it’s safe to land.
A half hour later we learn we will be working off another 45 minutes of fuel. In total, we spend an hour and a half zigging, zagging, and circling the skies over southern Ontario.
It’s an interesting experience to find yourself in a situation totally out of your control where your next 90 minutes may or may not be your last. What would you do in that place with that time?
I thought about it, and rejected the idea of reading the newspaper, watching a movie, or going over my notes from my conference. Those activities all seemed a bit pointless – distractions at best. I thought briefly about writing a note to those I love. But that seemed a tad melodramatic.
And so, I simply thought about my recent connections with those who are dear to me. I’d spoken with my husband by phone each of the days I’d been away. I’d visited with my folks the day before I’d headed east. I’d spent the previous weekend with daughter number one and her family in Calgary. I’d traded phone calls and messages making a plan to meet for lunch with daughter number two.
I’d connected with all five of my sisters as we worked through plans for Christmas dinner. I’d shared laughs and great conversations with my friends and business colleagues at the conference. I’d recently spent an afternoon with a group of women friends who meet two or three times a year. I’d posted encouraging comments on the Facebook posts of several dear friends. I’d spoken with the neighbors making a plan for a get together first thing in the new year.
Sure, there were plenty of loose ends and things undone that also flashed through my mind. I could easily have created a long list of tasks awaiting attention – programs to plan, gifts to buy, books to sell, and art to make. But, somehow that all seemed secondary and nowhere near as important as whether or not I was current with the key people in my world. Had the most important words been said and deepest feelings shared?
I think one of the reasons I felt surprisingly calm during those 90 minutes up in the air, was that, for once in my life, my answer to that question was ‘yes’. And, believe me, I’m acutely aware that this has not always been the case, and that I will probably fall short again in the future.
Action: You’re reading this now, so you already know that we landed safely back in Toronto. We were greeted by emergency vehicles, flashing lights, firefighters and plans to move us to another plane for a second attempt at Running Back To Saskatoon*.
So what’s my point? Well, as much as we may not like to entertain the idea, the fact of the matter is that any hour could well be our last.
How current you are at this very moment with the most important people in YOUR life?
And if you find a few gaps or disconnects, what are you waiting for?
Reach out. Share your thoughts and feelings. Say what you have to say. There will never be a better time than now.
Quotes Of The Week: If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting? – Stephen Levine
Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud. – Hermann Hesse
Resources Of The Week: Here’s a cool idea for keeping in touch with the people who matter in your life. The Postcardly service takes your photo, turns it into a postcard, prints your message on the back, and mails it to your intended recipient. Whose heart doesn’t lift just a bit at the sight of real mail in the post box?
* Lovers of vintage music might enjoy this link to the Guess Who live in concert performing Running Back To Saskatoon.
In reply to last week’s message, What’s It Take To Feel In Charge, Pause reader LK writes: As a 29 year old making my way through the world, the good life to me translates like this. Be accountable (give yourself permission, pay attention, choose). Take responsibility (reflect, choose, protect your time). Quit being lazy (focus, protect your time). If you do all of these things you will have time for play (pause). I really like how you took it in a different direction – recognizing that there is a lot of research and literature, but at the end of the day, it comes down to application which equals work. Nice article.