It has been said that travel isn’t what it used to be, and after the day I had yesterday, I would have to agree. I left West Hartford to join my family for a little winter get-away and, with it being so close to the holidays it was quite a hectic day of travel.
My travel day started out by standing in the check-in line behind a family with four teenagers who we’re being incredibly rude in the queue. As it turned out they would also be on my flight and would’ve occupy the seats just behind me…lucky me. I went through security without a hitch but then found myself seated between those obnoxious teenagers behind me, who clearly didn’t understand the way sound carries on a plane, and a freakin’ nursery school in front of me of odder toddlers who hadn’t been taught to use their inside voices and screaming babies. To top things off, my father booked me a connecting flight that was scheduled to board 15 minutes before my plane actually landed and of course we came not a terminal on the complete opposite side of the airport, but who wouldn’t want to run 3 miles through crowds on the busiest travel day of the year. I’ll point out here also that the family with the teenagers showed up on my second flight as well…seated in the row behind me…shocker!
So why am I telling you all of this, why am I using a weekly blog post to complain about the deterioration of the travel experience which used to be such a glamorous thing but now feels no different from being packed into a giant flying sardine can? And what does it have to do with martial arts?
A long time ago Master Pearson used to run an instructors’ certification seminar. It was basically like a year-long program which included lectures, mixed media presentations, written, oral, and practical work, the completion of which resulted in a certificate of competency to teach martial arts in our system. The program was actually quite good and in many ways, way ahead of its time. One thing which I remember learning in this program which really stood out to my then 12-year-old mind and has stuck with me ever since was the concept of re-framing. Now I can’t remember why this concept was taught or what the context was or how it related to martial arts instruction, but like many of the things Master Pearson mentions in passing, it has come to have real implications as I continue down life’s path. Essentially re-framing is a way of looking at the world. It encourages one to literally re-frame a negative situation and cast it into a different light. For instance, as I stood in line behind the obnoxious teenagers I had two options…be really annoyed or tell myself, this is a lesson in patience. While surrounded by screaming children, I could have pulled my hair out or I could have thought something like, here’s a chance to work on meditation under really extreme circumstances. As I ran through the airport, I could have been really pissed at my dad, or I would’ve thought “gee, I’m glad I go to the gym every day, here’s an opportunity to see if it’s working!”.
Of course some of these things are ridiculous…was I really glad to be running through the airport sucking wind, no way! But the point of reframing is that by consciously affirming a different reality, even if it seems silly, we can actually change our mindset and thus our experience.
So after a long day of travel, I’ll just say I’m glad I had this opportunity to improve my reframing technique!
Have a wonderful New Year everyone,