Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Actually Like Long Flights (Now)!

If you are a traveler, roamer, wanderer, or mover long enough, you are bound to endure a long, long, long flight. These long flights carry us across oceans and continents, taking us to new places, or returning us to old ones. And while they are a necessary evil in our traveling lives, they are probably one of the parts of the lifestyle we like the least.

I was blessed with the chance to have this experience not once, but twice, in a two-week period of time. One was to carry me home to California for the holidays, and one was to carry me home to Spain to resume my “normal life.” And I've got to say, that after the experiences I had, I am no longer one who falls under the category of “dreading this long flight” or “Man I really hate these things.”

My trip home involved one 11.5 hour flight from Madrid to Dallas, and one four hour flight from Dallas to San Francisco. On the long flight, I was seated next to a young guy from San Diego, who was flying home from his semester abroad in Madrid. He was such a sweet kid, and we alternated between watching the mediocre movies and shows they played for us, reading, coloring (me), and conversing about an array of life topics and California things. Neither of us slept a wink, which could have been a nightmare, but it was a really pleasant experience, and when the time came for us to take separate trams to our next flights, we parted with a hug and well wishes. I send him love and light, and hope he returns to the world again someday.

Surprisingly enough, I wasn't at all tired of travelling by the time I got to Dallas. But something changed by the time I got on the plane, and I couldn't have been more ready to finish the trip. Luckily, the three-seat row I was in had an empty middle seat, giving me some extra space. (Literally every traveler’s dream – that the seat(s) next to you will be empty. Even if the flight is only an hour long.) But even with this magical, extra space, I still couldn't sleep. Which was really, really frustrating, because by the time I landed in San Francisco, it was as though I had been up and flying all day and all night.

The journey coming back to Spain was an entirely different story. I was sleep deprived and sick, so if I wasn't making light small talk with my seat mates or eating, I was asleep in one of a variety of strange airplane sleeping positions. I flew the same route coming back – SF to Dallas, Dallas to Madrid – but the flights were all a little bit shorter on the route back. Instead of four hours, it was three and a half, and instead of 11.5, it was 9.5. Quite doable, especially when you’re passed out.

The flight from SF to Dallas was a touching one. I was seated next to a heavyset Guatemalan man and his 7-year old daughter. When they first sat down, my judgmental human instinct was, “Oh man. Not only will I now share the row with someone who doesn't quite fit in the seat, but he’s got a child with him.” But for some reason (thinking I'll thank my years of practice at being less judgmental, as well as my subconscious) I quickly pushed the concerned thoughts aside, and decided it would be just lovely. I had had a beautiful time at home, and couldn't be bothered with negative or judgmental thoughts. 

I heard them speaking Spanish, so I decided to brush off the old language skills and speak a bit with them. I actually got a bit nervous before I started speaking, since it had been a couple weeks since I'd spoken Spanish, and I felt a little rusty. But I braved it, and was really happy that I had! I found out he is a painter, and that he had taken his daughter on a vacation to the United States for the holidays, as they had just lost the mother a few weeks prior and needed to get away. It was all I could to do keep myself from wrapping my arms around his plump body and bringing his daughter to my heart for an embrace. I can’t imagine being 7-years old and losing my mom. I love my mom so insanely much, it pained me to know hers was now gone from her life. I was immediately glad I had remained open to the situation. 

I grew even happier that I hadn't let the initial, cruel, typical thoughts take control, when he asked me, quite nervously, if I knew which gate they needed to go to for their next flight. He was more than a little concerned, because they had less than forty minutes to get to the gate for their next flight home. The gratitude he projected on me had me sending up prayers of thanks that I made the decision to be loving and positive instead of full of dread and concern. (This may seem like a harsh way to say it, but let's be honest, aside from one of our favorite things ever being empty seats next to us, and long, long flights being our least, sitting next to children and/or larger people also tend to fall on our "not so favorite part of travelling" list.) But we were able to work it all out, get them the information they needed, determine they had more than enough time, and enjoyed a final tram ride together. It was another really blessed flight experience, and now that I think about that man and his child, I realize how blessed I was to be able to sit next to them on that flight. (Thank you, Lord, for placing me there with them.)

Then came the big baby, the long one, the here-we-go. I was still so tired when I got on the flight that would carry me back to Madrid, I didn't really care who I was next to. I hoped it would be no one, but when that wasn't the case, I was glad to realize I was again quite blessed to have a pleasant seatmate. I was seated next to a really nice Sevillan guy, who was flying back from visiting his girlfriend in Mexico. We spent some time talking, and upon asking how he and his girlfriend had met, he told me they had met online over two years prior. They started talking online, and then after some months, he had saved up enough money, and decided to go and meet her finally in person. They've been dating ever since. Oh, the things you learn about on airplanes! 

So overall, I had a really great travel experience. Which is great, because now I'm really not bothered by the thought of a long flight, and that's good, because I'll be enduring a lot of them over the course of my life! I have officially been converted into a real traveler! One who isn't phased by long flights, and actually kind of looks forward to them. 

Everything we do in life depends on our mentalities, and long flights are definitely not excluded from this! If we see something that triggers a "natural response," we can so easily shift it and switch the whole experience we're going to have to be something full of goodness and love! It's always worth trying, right? I'd certainly rather spend my days in love and light!

Hope that you all are having a really fantastic weekend, and that you're given the chance to overcome judgmental thoughts and have a blessed experience where there might have been a not-so-great one!

Blessings, Love & Light to you all, and goodnight! :-*

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