Monday, 28 May 2018

The Forest for the trees....What are you missing out on?

I have always dreamed of turning left on the plane instead of right and being (just once) in those business class beds. It’s kind of on my bucket list. I have always felt it would be such an experience to lay down flat on a plane and sleep the trip away. However, I feel very blessed and privileged to do a lot of travel for my job/ministry. I do love travel for many reasons and I don't even mind the long plane trips because they are a means to an end and a great chance to catch up on movies. However, I have always been very jealous of those who can sleep on a plane. I watch people, sitting upright, eye-patch on and away they go. I get very little sleep on the whole, travelling, so movies help me pass the time as my legs go crazy, my bottom is aching and I feel like I am constantly moving and tossing. I don't need much sleep to function, so basically it is not a big deal and I always seem to catch up. 

But this trip, I had just finished a 15 hour haul from Sydney to Doha and it was midnight. The next flight was a short leg, 6 hours through the night, to land me in the morning in Budapest for a conference that was to start that day. An opportunity came up where I could be upgraded and this never really happens to me. I was so excited. Finally I would be able to experience lying down and sleeping. It was perfect timing. I would be fresh, ready to go to conference AND fulfil a dream I had had for a long time. They announced the boarding, I was internally busting with joy and anticipation. They boarded everyone and left business class till last. They were robbing me of minutes of this experience. I only had 6 hours …”come on, come on” my tired restless soul was saying. Then they finally called me and we were put on a separate minibus to be taken to the plane. There were only two of us. We drove to the other side of the tarmac, past the big planes, past the middle sized planes, past the smaller planes, to come to a very small plane. It was our plane and immediately my heart sank into my stomach. As I walked up the gangplank I was greeted so happily by the attendants. I turned RIGHT to find that it was just a glorified chair, a bit bigger than the normal economy seats.

Well, I have to be honest and say I cried and cried and cried. The attendant was trying to help me with my bags as he could see that I was upset. Eventually he said he would give me some space as it looked like I needed it so he left me with a wine menu bigger than most restaurants and the food menu. Still, I could not stop crying. People were passing us to go to their economy seats in the next section and goodness knows what they thought. I could not stop crying. I was so disappointed, so deflated, so embarrassed. If they knew why I was crying, they would think I was pathetic and rightly so. 

The attendant approached me carefully and asked me if I wanted a hot towel. No thanks. Did I want a drink? No thanks. Have you looked at the menu? No thanks. We’ll serve it to you anytime you request? Can I get you anything? No thanks. Here’s your beautiful, fluffy, ‘purple’ blanket. I didn't want to eat, drink or be served. I WANTED A BED, and nothing else would suffice. 

It was clear he was not going to give up. He was doing all he could to make me happy. When I opened the menu, it was a 4 course meal. So I did what many girls like me do when they are upset, they eat it ALL.  At 1am in the morning, this was the last thing I needed, on so many levelsbut clearly I wasn’t going to sleep, so what else could I do? There didn’t seem to be a screen for movies, but I was crying too much to think about it anyway. And then the service began. They put a table cloth over my little table, put the little (cute) salt and
pepper shakers on one side, a basket of hot breads to choose from, a real knife and fork, the whole deal. Every time I finished my cup of tea, in a real cup, they filled it up, just the way I liked it, because they remembered and aimed to serve me very personally. The meals looked like a chef had prepared them and I just kept eating and CRYING.  I felt so sick after the meal that I still couldn't sleep or get comfortable. They asked when I wanted to be woken (as if I was going to sleep) for breakfast and then left me.

After a while I got up to peek into economy and saw that they all had screens and where watching movies. This can’t be right, why didn’t I have one? Then with a bit of exploring, through blurry eyes, I found there was a small screen in the arm of my chair. I couldn’t understand why the back of the chair in front was a blank floral design, but a big space. WHY wasn’t there a BIG screen there? There were only 7 movies to choose from. Through blood shot eyes I tried to watch something and it wasn’t long before the table cloth came out again and the full service breakfast began. I was so full of food, but I was still upset … so maybe an omelet with mushrooms and tomato would help.

I got off the plane first. I’ve never done that before. I was so worried they were going to ask me why I was so upset. I mean, what would I say? I got to customs first and walked right through and you’d think I’d be happy and see all these “firsts” … but I stood at the baggage claim still crying. Just when I felt like I had composed myself, I turned my phone on to see David’s (my husband) message “How was Business Class?” to which I fell apart again. 

I know this is ridiculous. I am ridiculous. I mean, who cries when being served a 5 star meal on a plane and being treated so well  … when all I wanted was a bed! How ungrateful I was. What was wrong with me?  There’s a saying that goes “you can't see the forest for the trees.” I was so caught up in what I wanted that I couldn't enjoy the things that were all around me. I work with people and kids all the time and get so frustrated at the things they simply can’t be happy for and instead hold onto the one thing they want and can’t have. Well, that was me! I couldn't believe how paralysed I was by my own selfish wants, that I just couldn't get past it. There are some things going on in my life that could justify my ridiculous response, but even so, it was still a case of being so blinded by “selfish” wants that I simply couldn't enjoy any of the experience at all. And that is a sad reality. This is not a good way to live. 

What did I learn from this experience, other than the fact that I am ridiculous, is that that there is no point trying to reason with someone while they are in this state, or trying to help them see how blessed they are. It will fall on deaf ears. I learned that the steward did the RIGHT thing. He didn't try to reason with me, but gave me space and kindness. I learned that self-reflection after the event is a good tool to get perspective and this is the place and time to learn from the experience. God made sure I learned that as on the plane trip home I walked past ALL the beds to get out of the plane from Economy class, and I was able to smile about it. I learned that even saying it out loud to someone helps you see the silliness of the situation and helps you begin to see the “forest for the trees”, so walking alone is never a good option. No one is perfect, there will always be something that happens when you least expect it and at times you will respond inappropriately. Forgive yourself quickly, but learn from it and make the changes necessary to move forward. If you don't you will miss the beautiful forest that awaits you. What are you missing out on?