Many years ago, I had a lesson in surrendering.
Now, I’m not very good at it.
Surrendering, that is.
I’m a problem solver and will work and work a situation to find a solution.
I like to do that.
I get energized by the process.
Many years ago, I took a domestic flight. I was one of only two international passengers on the flight.
But this wasn’t the US.
It was a developing country.
The first American fast food restaurant was still six months away.
(As I write that, I see those last two sentences could be construed as oxymoronic.)
The plane was on the runway and as we boarded the crew were standing by the doors.
But instead of the welcome I was used to, the passengers were met with stony-faced indifference.
I sat down and if I hadn’t already realized this was going to be a less pleasant flight than the ones I was used to, I got it when the food was
distributed, thrown at us by the flight attendants.
When I pulled down my table from the back of the seat in front of me, crumbs and other remains of the meal eaten by the passenger who’d inhabited the seat before me fell in my lap.
And this was before the flight started.
I’d resigned myself to a low-level of customer service and resolved not to eat the hard, dry biscuit that exploded to powder when I bit into it and which constituted my meal.
So I sat back in my seat to enjoy take-off, my favorite part of any flight.
As we taxied along the runway, I looked out at the airfield. This was not a swanky, modern, architectural beauty of an airport.
It was a few buildings in the middle of a field.
That could have done with a bit of weeding.
As the plane increased its’ speed, my attention was brought to items on the grass by the side of the runway.
First, a wing.
Next, a cockpit.
The door hanging open.
I couldn’t quite believe my eyes.
A fuselage, tail, another wing followed.
All recognizable but burned.
All in all, I counted the remnants of one and three quarters aircraft.
Now, I’m no airplane buff.
But my Dad is.
I went to so many airshows as a child, I knew more about the different types of WWII plane than it is reasonable for any child aged four to know.
I knew what I was looking at.
I was looking at the remains of a plane crash.
And looking at them while sitting on a plane I couldn’t get off.
It was not reassuring.
Not reassuring at all.
So as I passed this sight, looking out my little window, wondering if my parents would ever see their only daughter again, I considered my options.
I only had one.
I couldn’t get off. I couldn’t influence what happened.
I had to see the flight through.
And a funny feeling came over me.
I sunk into my seat and relaxed. No pushing or trying or discussing or worrying.
I. just. relaxed.
It was awesome.
Sometimes we need to know when to stop the relentless push, push, push.
We all have limited resources and we need to balance if the goal is worth the energy needed to achieve it.
We have to consider the opportunity cost – what we will lose if we go after our goal.
And we have to accept that sometimes disappointment and helplessness are our lot.
That we have less control than we would like.
Obviously I survived the flight and took two similar flights afterward.
The final flight was out of the country to an international destination and that was a very different experience.
Obviously, international reputations are a concern while internal domestics are another matter entirely.
Such is the nature of the free market, respect for individual rights and regulation.
And lack thereof.
Problem solving is cool, choice is great.
But sometimes we get out of whack, out of balance.
We become just like the wreckage of those planes – empty, hollow.
The irony is that I had this awesome feeling of surrender in a place where I had no options.
Resting, handing over the control to someone else is difficult.
We want to be alpha females, to nurture, to help, to fix.
But sometimes we need to stop.
Wave the white flag. And let happen.
Whatever will happen.
Do you find it hard to surrender? Do you want to fix everyone’s problems? How do you feel when you let it all go? Let me know in the comments!