How can we tolerate the inconveniences?

We love Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia farm

A few days ago, Hazel and I were next to each other on a plane at the start of our vacation to visit dear friends in Nova Scotia. We were both so excited to be going. This was in contrast to the man across the aisle who couldn’t be more displeased with his situation. 

From what I overheard, it sounded like he did not like his seat and that the seat he was assigned either wasn’t what he expected, the one he signed up for, or what he thought he deserved. The flight attendant on the receiving end seemed to handle it all very professionally and after quite a bit of back-and-forth something was decided.  I didn’t notice if he stayed in his original seat or moved to a new one. He didn’t raise his voice after that and I didn’t give him any thought for the rest of the flight. I chatted with Hazel and read my book and tried not to drool too conspicuously or let my neck flop around too much each time that I dozed off. I don’t think I was successful.

After landing, Hazel and I made our way off the plane and then hung around the jet way waiting for Dave and Nora who were a few rows behind us. While we stood there, a slow-moving elderly lady stepped off the plane and this tall young guy in a pink shirt came off right behind her. I could immediately tell by his posture and hurried attitude that this was the displeased person with the seat issue from earlier in the flight. His body language matched the tone of voice. The old lady was moving slowly and after a few steps, she paused so she could get her bags organized and pull them up the jet way. The guy was so annoyed by this he actually huffed, put his head forward and shrugged aggressively with his hands up, as if asking no one in particular, “Can you believe this?”   He made a move to pass her on the right at the same time that the lady leaned right and then he lunged left, determined to get past the huge disturbance that was this old woman. He succeeded, but once he passed her up, he was stuck there because the jet way was still full of people, in no apparent hurry. Pink-shirt man was really annoyed and proceeded to dodge the crowd like and push his way forward, reminding me of one of those little Honda civics that moves right to left to dodge heavy traffic during rush hour.  I quit watching him after a few of his strategic moves and chuckled at this comical caricature of exasperation. The lady finally finished arranging herself and then made her way up the jetway, unaware of any of this, which to me was the funniest part of the whole thing. 

I thought about this later and had to admit that I’ve been that guy… a lot. Planes and old ladies don’t set me off, but there are things that do. I’ve been impatient and felt put upon for lengths of time that range from a few hours to a few years and in this mode, things are so difficult. It is difficult to be in the world when it’s all conspiring against you and it’s difficult to enjoy anyone because the main problem is all the other people that really need to get their shit together so my day can go well. One of the unanticipated effects of yoga is an ability to see my own struggles in the ones I notice in other people. I am the pink-shirt guy. I can’t be too judgy when I’m honest with myself about this one.  And another effect…I’ve noticed that once I started to get my shit together and take responsibility for my life and attitude, everyone else got a lot nicer and easier to enjoy along the way. Maybe someday I can be the lady who takes her time, takes care of herself, isn’t bothered by the upset people around me and who then patiently, steadily makes her way up the jet way.





4 thoughts on “How can we tolerate the inconveniences?

  1. So perfectly rendered! I can truly relate to you, as the student of this life moment, to pink shirt guy with his impatience, and to slow old lady with her obliviousness/ambivalence to the pink shirt guy. This is an especially good point: “the main problem is all the other people that really need to get their shit together so my day can go well.” really made me laugh. hope the trip is all you had imagined, and more. xo, r

  2. “It is difficult to be in the world when it’s all conspiring against you and it’s difficult to enjoy anyone because the main problem is all the other people that really need to get their shit together so my day can go well.” Oh, I laughed when I read this 🙂 My yoga practice has nearly cured me of this ( 🙂 ) – but how many years did it take before I took responsibility for my own shit? Goodness, I am still finding examples where I offload my own misdirected emotions inappropriately. A student of life indeed, and thank you rude pink shirted man for directing our gaze 🙂

  3. It was when I was cussing in front of my daughter while driving in traffic that made me want to change. What helped me to change was Yoga. When I took a breath, rather than curse, I saw that the person who cut me off was lost or had a map in their hand and was trying to navigate the unfamiliar one way streets of my downtown. Or she was indeed, a little old lady, overwhelmed by the fast pace of modern life. I’m better now, but when the asshole returns, I know I’m not meditating enough.

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