I’m sitting in the Albuquerque Sunport, waiting to board the first leg of my flight home after spending Christmas in New Mexico with my family. I’ve often felt that airports are the perfect places to understand what it means to be in the moment: you’ve already said goodbye to where you were, and who you were with, but you haven’t yet moved on to new places or new people. You are just there. No past no future, just now. After this past week of frenetic holiday togetherness, I find it relaxing to be in this moment (in spite of my sadness at saying to goodbye to my folks).
While I have been in New Mexico, the world has been shocked by several sudden celebrity deaths. First George Michael, who reportedly died of heart failure in his sleep. Then, Carrie Fisher, who had a heart attack while on a flight from London to L.A. Finally, Debbie Reynolds, Fisher’s mother, who suffered a stroke while making her daughter’s funeral arrangements.
As each news report came to us, I was more freaked out. Michael was a couple years younger than me, Fisher, a couple years older. Both died of heart-related issues. I couldn’t help suddenly giving thought to my own bad choices and how they impact my health. And when we learned of Reynolds’ death, I remember looking around at my beloved family and thinking, “That’s it: I need to make certain I fully appreciate today–right now–and not allow myself to get caught up in the petty irritations that derail our enjoyment and satisfaction with one another.”
That resolution stood firm right up till the next time I needed to pee and the one bathroom at my parents’ house was occupied (again). Suddenly, I found it pretty difficult to stay in a place of gratitude and appreciation. My promise to be fully in this moment gave way to my memory of past indignities and my current discomforts.
It is easy to be “in the moment” when the moment you are in is tranquil or impersonal (such as waiting by yourself in an airport terminal). Much harder to be in the moment – and grateful for that moment – when things are crazy and crowded and chaotic and full of people both irritatingly and gratifyingly similar to oneself. That’s just the way things are within a family.
As I sit here waiting for my flight to begin boarding, I realize that, while I may be relaxed and thoroughly present in this moment, I am also alone. It turns out that all I needed was a tiny bit of breathing space in order to appreciate every one of those shared holiday moments – the good, bad, and downright ugly ones. I would not trade any of them for one extra minute of tranquility.
Note: the title for today’s reflection is a quote from my niece Zoe, who has often said it when parting from loved ones.