This morning I took an early flight home to Chicago from Nashville. I’d been there for the wedding of a sweet, beautiful and lovely friend. In Sunday morning, out Monday morning. On the plane I jotted notes about being present, being available in light of a conversation at the wedding about this quote by poet Lao Tzu:
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
For about 85 minutes with the hum of the packed flight in the background I jotted notes about being there, right there in the moment, in that seat, those clouds, this random paper peeking out of the back pocket of the seat, that lone peanut crushed at my feet…
I exited the plane, feeling peaceful, feeling present. I walked a long way through the airport, glad to be home in Chicago and taking in every sight and every sound. I took note of the font used in ads, I noticed the way a mother spoke to her daughter in the waiting area, I marveled at copious lines of people waiting to go somewhere. I was all about being there, right there, right then.
And then I saw that I’d turned the wrong way when I exited. I came to the end of the terminal and very subtly turned around, maybe a little embarrassed but no worse for the wear. I had begun to rethink this whole, ‘being fully present’ idea. On the way back through the terminal, making my way to baggage claim I hear my name called. I turned and saw the face of another Nashville friend, completely random, there, at Midway airport. He was out of place so it took me a second or two to take it in. “Thaddeus!” I said, shaking my head. “Wow, that’s unexpected!” We spoke for just a moment, he had a plane to catch I had a cab to procure.
Being present took me somewhere I had not intended but it put me right where I needed to be, just then, at that moment. So, you know, there’s that.