I noticed a lot while I was traveling that people really get in each other’s way. I mean travel through any airport and you will be thwarted at every turn at someone who is not following the flow. Someone is always walking the wrong way down a corridor, stopping and standing right in the pathway. Someone is always lousing up other’s abilities to move easily and quickly forward.
It is irritating for me, who doesn’t like to be penned in or contained in anyway. I find travel taxing on a whole bunch of levels, yet I love it at the same time. It is all about mental preparation for me. I have to have the following talk with myself before entering any airport, and the shuttle bus? I have to have this talk with myself twice!
“Ok, we are going to be entering an airport (train station, crowded city street, concert venue, fill in the blank), there are lots of people trying to get where they are going and some of them are super anxious and not good travelers. You are not one of those people. You have your shit together, will not be running late and are not trying to bring on your entire suitcase collection on the plane. You are willing to check bags and let fate do its thing. There are others in the world that cannot be bothered with that so they will try to bring tons of crap on the plane with them. You will find this irritating. So take a breath now, before we even step foot in this building.
You are also going to find the people who stop in front of you, while walking at a good clip, ridiculously annoying, sometimes to the point where you just want to mow them down. Take them out. Knock them over. You will NOT be doing that. You will instead, with as much grace and dignity you can muster, go around them, trying not to act all put out as you do so.”
This is just the beginning of the much longer talk I have with myself before entering an airport (or anywhere there are lots of humans gathered). It is usually a much longer talk and is repeated over and over again until I am set free from the confines of air travel...
I want to be a good traveler. And I am. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the other people who are traveling with me, are pains in the ass. I need my space, and when they infringe upon it, I get annoyed and triggered and I am not my best self...like at all.
But as I was traveling last week, moving through packed airports, ferry stations and downtown Ketchikan (which is filled with cruise ship passengers) I made a decision to just give way. To just allow others to go ahead and do what they are going to do, to give them passage, and for me to give myself way, and allow the feelings their poor planning, running late, and general lack of preparation cause me to just be there.
It was going to happen anyway, so I might as well just let it be. And guess what? It all went fine. There was only one time that I was not able to give way but even that resulted in me giving way...there was a man (I wrote about him before) who was ill and all masked up and spilling out of his seat with all his medical devices and the like. He was my seat mate for the flight home to Santa Barbara from Seattle. I could tell by the fact that he very reluctantly removed all of his crap from my seat that he was not happy to have me or anyone really as a seat mate.
It took him five minutes to remove the stuff from my seat so I could sit down. If ever there was a person who needed to be given way, it was him. As I sat there all agitated about the fact that his girth was spilling into my space, and that he refused to put the arm rest down. I felt trapped but I could see that so did he. And so, on a very busy travel weekend, I asked to be re-sat. I didn’t want to endure two plus hours next to him, being irritated that I was there taking up what he had decided was his space. I didn’t want to talk to him about all his medical issues, I didn’t want to be near him like at all, ever.
So I moved. Then asked for permission from the flight attendant. The travel gods were smiling upon me that day because it wasn’t a full flight (which in today’s world is super rare) so I was able to have a row all to myself.
I gave us both way. And we were both better for it.
I have widened this concept to be something I consider in more than just travel situations. Giving way, allows me to stop inflicting myself on someone else, or the other way around, and give us both passage to some other place where we are not irritated with each other, or up in each other’s business. Giving way, allows for anyone that comes across your path to get what they need, while you do the same. And I often find that what I need most, is to not be around a lot of people. The older I get, the less and less I can handle people in large numbers. I have to really work at my spirituality. I have to psyche myself up for it and really work at being a human among other humans.
Giving way helps me do that. It is an intentional task that I do mentally that allows for you to be you, without me wanting to kill you. And that helps me because I really don’t like feeling that way about other beings, like at all. But unfortunately, I was not born with a constitution that is all easy going and shit. No, me, I am high strung, controlling and neurotic. I work on it daily but I am not sure how much I am going to move the needle from Type A to even Type a. Type B? Forget about it!
Giving way though, performed as a spiritual act, allows for others to do what they need to do and for me to have something to call my restraint. What am I doing when you cut me off? I am giving way. What am I doing when you jostle me in line? I am giving way. What am I doing when your girth spills into my seat area and makes me feel like I can’t breathe? I am giving way.
It is a thing. And it helps me reframe my irritation and do something productive with it. I want to cause harm to no one, to include myself. But I am not one with a constitution that can deal with all of that. So I have to come up with spiritual practices that backfill what I lack...and thus giving way was born.
It is kind of my own version of the Southern saying, “bless his heart,” but with less sarcasm and bitchiness, giving way, is my attempt at really practicing namaste in real time. I honor the traveler in you, as I honor the traveler in me. I honor your humanness and mine at the same time. I give way for you to be you, and for me to be me and to let all the stuff that pisses me off just roll off with every single way that I give.
It isn't easy but neither is air travel or any travel really. But giving way allows for me to work at becoming a better version of myself, while not wanting to kill you at the very same time. That feels like a win. I am going to call that a win.