It's interesting to note that my last post was about the fragility of public transport, not least since my holiday was topped and tailed by more transport dramas. But I suppose the thing that struck me most was the way people responded to them.
As I had a v-e-r-y long and messed about journey from Glasgow to Manchester Airport, I recalled two days in the past when my views on delays and diversions had shifted. One was way back in the day, when I had to drive silly distances for work, and realised that I was getting paid whether or not the vehicle was moving, so what did it matter? Travelling became much less stressful after that. The other was during my cancer treatment when I was very keenly aware of my own mortality and realised that delays and disruptions were not 'dead' or 'wasted' time but instead a gift of time to employ differently. As a result of these two shifts in thinking, I was utterly unruffled (if decidedly tired) when I finally reached Manchester airport at 1:15 a.m. Monday morning needing to be up and out at 4 a.m. And I was amused and blessed with an extra half day in Madeira when my flight home was delayed overnight due to adverse weather conditions in Funchal (rain closed the airport!!). And despite more signal failures and train delays, I got home safely at just after 6 p.m. last night, with just enough time to buy ingredients and bake cupcakes before retiring at midnight-ish.
Life is what you make of it, and I was surprised and irritated, even almost angered, by the negative responses of some of the other passengers on the delayed flight. Having been taken to a decent hotel, given lunch, promised dinner and breakfast, and having enough leisure time to be worthwhile, all they could do was complain. Where were the forms to get their money back? Why was the hotel 'only' giving a continental breakfast at the airline's expense? Could they get a receipt for a cup of coffee to claim back? They were never again going to use that airline (presumably because they couldn't fix the weather) and so on and so forth.
Whilst I was on holiday, I received a text to tell me a friend had just been diagnosed with secondary cancer, a stark reminder of the fragility of life. As I listened to the gripes I thought of the countless people whose loved ones were slipping away from them, and who would have gladly traded places with them. My inner, not so nice, person was shouting at them... you have health, you have a bed for the night, you have plenty of food, get over yourselves.
There is a choice with the events of life, so I was told when I was a child - to grasp the 'rough handle' or the 'smooth handle'. If you take the rough one your hand hurts... the rough, angry, rights-obssessed, easily insulted mind-set hurts only the person who holds onto such attitudes. Instead take the smooth one... the gentle, positive, optimisitic, adventurous atttidue, and you find it more copable, even with its lighter moments and silver linings.
Yes, there were things concerning trains and planes where improvements in practice (mostly communication) would have made a difference, but at the end of the day, I had a wonderful holiday, got the cupcakes delivered on time, and have emerged, if weary, unscathed.
For whom an evening and a millenium are as one
Who sits with the relative keeping vigil over a dying loved one
Who accompanies the person anxiously awaiting news
Who is present on every railway station and in every airport
Who paces with the impatient ones and sits with the silent ones
Whose hopefulness and positivity cannot and will not be diminished
Show me how to live your optimisitic gracious love
So that my rough edges are smoothed
And the adventure of my life lived to the fullest.