If I had my own band…I would call it one of the following:
THE SWEATY HUG (heavy metal)
ONSIDE KICK (reggae)
WET KISS (teen pop)
TRAVELING WITH A BABY! (rock n roll)
For those of you who have done it, you know it’s like WIDESPREAD PANIC or in some cases SLAYER.
A few weeks ago I was rushing through JFK (aaaahhhhhhh!!!!) with a baby in a stroller, a tired wife, two pieces of luggage, and two carry ons.
Have you been there before? Your heart is racing. One eye on the baby, one eye on the clock, and you pray there’s no security line.
And then the worst of the worst happened. The TSA agent. Is it ok if I cuss? The f*cking TSA agent decided to make me prove my luggage would fit in the overhead bin. I’ve squeezed this luggage into more bins than Wilt Chamberlain had wet kisses.
You know the drill. TSA makes you stuff your luggage into that tiny little thing to prove your luggage will fit on the plane.
So I’m squeezing my luggage into this tiny little thing. Pushing it. Punching it. Stomping on it. Kicking it. Jumping on it.
If it doesn’t fit, I have to go all the way back to the ticket counter to check my luggage. That’s an extra 30 minutes. That means missed flight. That means stuck at airport with a 9 month old and angry wife. That means….AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!
As if watching a wrestling match (me vs my luggage), the TSA lady halts the match 30 seconds in and shakes her head saying, “NO! The luggage is too long!”
And then, before my head exploded and sweat sprayed from my eyeballs, I saw the innocent look of my 9 month old baby. How can you be mad when you see a little Budha looking at you as if to say, “Daddy don’t be mad. I love you so so so much.”
I took a step back. And in the midst of all this, I remembered a piece I had read by Tara Brach about The Sacred Pause.
In bullfighting, a matador’s biggest fear is for the bull to find a moment of pause. This is referred to as “querencia,” and in this pause, a bull gathers his strength and loses his fear. Otherwise, the bull is just enraged and reactive, which gives the matador the advantage.
I was feeling like an enraged bull. I needed querencia.
I mean, I really needed to pause. Not just in this moment but in life. I’ve been way way way too tense.
Break the rhythms, release the patterns, untangle from time.
Last Tuesday I went to Flushing Meadows and spent a day at the US Open, alone, watching tennis. Back and forth and back and forth went the tennis ball, as did my mind…unraveling.
I watched the American tennis player Donald Young against the heavily favored #11 seed Gilles Simon.
Donald Young was in a huge hole, losing 4-6, 2-6, 0-3. He was tense, the match was ugly, he probably felt much like I did stuffing my baggage into the TSA bin.
And then BOOM!
Donald Young came alive and WON…4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. It was awesome!!!!
Over the course of many hours watching this match, I realized the source of much of my tension and struggle. It’s not so much being a new parent.
Rather…I take much more than I give.
Taking is not just a matter of resources, but an inner dialogue: ”I gotta make more. I need help from. They owe me. I want.” 4-6, 2-6, 0-3. That attitude puts you in the hole the second those thoughts start oozing from the brain.
That taker attitude won’t get you anywhere. It just places blame on everyone else (ie the TSA agent who is just doing her job). And that is a life spent solving problems, “hoping” for the best and planning for the worst, needing a perfect airport experience with NOTHING going wrong in order to be happy.
There are other, healthier ways to be happy than taking, needing, and hoping.
It’s so much lighter to embody the giver attitude. The giver spends their day offering a silent blessing, a compassionate phone call, helpful advice. None of which takes much time or money, and all of which has the potential to add great value to the world. 4-6, 2-6, 6-4! Now we’re talkin!
I have spent 42 years asking, “Why is the universe holding something back from me?” But the question I should be asking is, “What am I holding back from the universe?”
Thank God for the querencia. We all need one. 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4!!!!
To the poor TSA agent, you were just doing your job. And in the midst of my querencia, I kindly asked if there was another option here.
She pointed me toward her supervisor who happened to be lovely (and empathetic).
She told the agents to let us through and off we went…