True appreciation seems to necessarily require meditation in opposition. We can’t appreciate sleep without exhaustion, relief without worry, healing without pain. Likewise, vacation never seems to taste to sweet as when it comes from the bittersweet pain of a very real week– at work, home and personally. I couldn’t have imagined how exquisite an eight hour flight would feel coming off the 48 hours preceding my journey to Paris.
The day before I left for France, life really put up its fists. It was one detail after the next that would either bore you or enrage me. So I spare us both. Simply put, I began a new job, and while it was raining positivity, it was overwhelming nonetheless. But I got through the week. It was almost Friday. Almost time to get over to my favorite place in the world: France. At 1am, I turned out the light and finally got some much needed rest. It was over. Now, vacation…
I woke and the sun was hopeful. I was going to meet my friend whom I will be traveling with this next week. I got in the car, craved that first sip of coffee that would have to wait for me at the airport and drove away. Not one mile from her house, another tore out from nowhere and seemingly flew into my car. This was not a fender bender. No, this would require reports, exchange of insurance… In short, time. Panicked, I pulled the side in my barely drivable car. I wouldn’t be going to France was my thought. And for such a short 5 day trip, I probably wouldn’t be going the next day either.
Somehow, we got through the paperwork, got a tow and found ourselves racing to the gates. People were boarding as I was still catching my breath. I sat down and sighed.
“There is a problem with the left engine–please hold tight”, informed the pilot. Really? I looked at my phone for the time. One hour for the connection. Here we go again… Still, we were off the ground within a half hour and managed to make up time.
As I got off the plane in D.C., I ran to the nearest monitor. ‘Boarding’ was flashing for my gate. I picked up the pace and made it to the next terminal. By the time I got there, they announced mechanical issues and ‘at least’ a one hour delay. Amazed, yet not, I resigned to a chair and began making phone calls to my insurance company to tie up loose strings regarding the accident. By the time I was done, they began to board.
I write this now 38,000 feet in the sky and about 30 minutes from landing in Paris. I am certain there is a reason I was supposed to be here… or I was never supposed to get on that plane. It’s funny how we convince ourselves of those polar opposite scenarios once all is said and done. If it goes well, it was meant to be. If it goes sour, we should have read the writing on the wall.
If for no other reason, I watched a movie in my half lucid, Benadryl-influenced state that offered up one passage that I hope to keep with me both this week and for a lifetime: “So too must you be grateful for one single phrase, one transcendent moment.” That ephemeral glimpse at life’s beauty is the proof of truth, meaning and purpose. Life is a continuous string of repetition–work, meals, sleep, exercise– but it is peppered with flavor so nuanced, so nearly invisible at times, yet incredibly intense and necessary.
To feel grateful, one must feel misfortune. I learned that very early on in a very difficult way. As I looked over at the 22 year old girl who hit me– bawling her eyes out as though nothing had ever happened so awful in her life– I calmly accepted that this wasn’t the end of the world by any means. There’d always be Paris as long as I live. I’ve been lucky to see it a few times already. If we can reflect on the scars we carry throughout our life– not petty car accidents one can walk from or a bad day at work– but truly impressionable scars that have changed us forever, we can appreciate what follows.
I am ever grateful for the way I perceive life. It is the good that came from bad. It is what invigorates all my senses daily and keeps me optimistic.
As my ears begin to pop, I’ve anxious butterflies in anticipation for the adventure for the next few days– the 100 anniversary ending to a remarkable cycling race these past few weeks, introducing one my dearest friends to one of the most glorious cities in the world and my husband in just a short few hours.
Life is good. Even the bad. It’s a package deal, if you really want to live it.
(more to come from this trip in the next few days!)