My parents just arrived from India. The flights from India are super long-spanning more than a day with multiple stops. My parent’s flight schedule was from Chennai -> Abu Dhabi -> Chicago -> Columbus. I diligently tracked it on the FlightAware app, which gives a real-time visual of where the plane is.

When they landed in Chicago, I was expecting a message from them. When I got no news, I looked up the flight number and realized it had been cancelled. And my parents were rebooked on a later flight which kept getting delayed. Finally, they landed about five hours post their original arrival time.

Picture of Airplane monitors showing Delayed flights

In the world of flights – delays and cancellations are the norm. When we travelled to India, our flight was delayed by a day; we got rebooked through London. When we were globe-trotting in London – we have had all sorts of experiences – slept on cots in Chicago, the wrong date of entry on visas, showered in lounges in New York, snow cancellations, and watched the plane gate shut as we reached it – the list is endless.

The point of this blog is not to list all the things that can go wrong with the flights but point out the illusion of control we have despite those items. When we start a trip, we expect everything to go as planned. And when things do not go as planned, we are disappointed even though nobody guarantees that the journey will work our way.

And this made me wonder – why do I have to go through this every time something does not go my way. The one thing guaranteed in life is that one hundred per cent of the things will not go my way – if I know that – then why am I still holding onto the belief that it should.

Another option is to live life expecting everything to go wrong; that way, when things go as planned, you are happy. I have tried to live this way, and your predominant state of being – becomes fear which is also not helpful.

Does this mean that when things go my way, I rejoice with joy, and when things do not, I despair? The golden mean states that we should not go to either extreme – but, I am sorry, I do feel happy and despair. If I had just won a lottery, I would be fooling myself if I said I was being neutral instead of jumping with joy.

So, then what does work? Being a witness, being in the present moment, not projecting into the future, or coming from the past. If we are in the moment, then the fact is – ‘Flight is delayed’ rest everything that follows like – ‘What if it is cancelled?’ etc. is imagination. It does not mean we do not plan for the eventuality, but we do not have to live it. We should be grounded in the fact that the flight is delayed.

Picture of Theater Audience with blurred actors

Living in the now does mean that life will not be that interesting because there is very little drama or fear associated with the situation. There will be more depth and peace than this sudden intake of intense joy or despair. When we have had enough of the human predicament, we will automatically become aware of the presence watching the drama. And we will enjoy ourselves as the audience instead of totally identifying with the actor. Easier said than done – but the teacher appears when the student is ready.

Who are you right now? Audience or the Actor

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