Thursday, May 26, 2011

experiencing instead of ignoring.

It’s 11:20 pm and I’m sitting in the love field airport in dallas, texas. I’m typing this post in a word document, which I find strangely less inspiring than typing it directly into blogger©, but my wireless doesn’t feel like connecting, so I don’t have much more of a choice.

The reasoning behind my travels is for another post. I’m sorry to be shady, but when a new post begins to pour forth it’s a process I prefer to allow in uninterrupted succession, and if I’m going to mention why I’ve been all over the country this week, I’m going to have to devote the remainder of this post to that mention, and I don’t want to abandon my impending idea. A post devoted to the purpose of my travels is coming soon.

i am currently stuck in a texas airport 11:20 pm because of a day’s worth of bad weather. It started this morning, causing me to miss a first connecting flight and then the following flight for which I was rebooked when I missed the first.

We’d boarded our third attempt at a flight when hail began pounding the top of the plane. Moments later, we were de-boarded and then herded down a little known flight of stairs to a dingy hallway inhabited by a number of crew-people in orange vests. i don’t think anyone would have been so concerned, but given recent events, the tornado sirens and weathermen yelling at love field to take cover had gotten some hearts pounding and some faces hardening.

I found myself fearful at first, but moments after everyone had settled in the hallway with their phones and ipads under their noses, hoping for some semblance of service, the orange-vested crew people began to make their way up and down the hall with cups and bottles of water. They were filling the cups and handing them out as fast as they could. Nerves make me thirsty, so I was thankful for the water, but what truly refreshed me was the smiles and the willingness with which the crew served. They were laughing and stepping with spring and looking us all in the eye and acting as if the delay was going to benefit them in some way, rather than extending their work day by an undeterminable amount.

I mentioned this in a recent post, but there’s something about crisis (or in tonight’s case, a minor interruption of the expected schedule, which many of unfortunately consider a crisis) that opens a unique perspective in which we think about ourselves in terms of being aware of how frustrated and let down and disappointed we are, but mainly, we find ourselves projecting that awareness onto our perceptions of others, trying as hard as we can to help because we know how it feels and we just want to make it better somehow.

As I sit here and type, i find my heart bleeding for the individuals who surround me. and I think that their hearts are bleeding for me too. there’s a woman with a peaceful face and a consistently soft smile a couple or so feet away. A moment ago she got up and gently covered my bare toes with an airline blanket. minutes later when I’d squirmed and shifted and re exposed my feet, she covered them again. when I told her my mom would thank her, she told me she’d expect someone to do the same for her little girl. I’ve conversed easily with many people tonight. their smiles and sarcasm and laughter and genuine interest in where I came from and where I’m heading have made these hours ones I no longer feel are wasted.

moments ago, an update on the icelandic volcanoes appeared on tv. a man in a striped shirt to my right began to describe the area of Tennessee in which he lives. the man explained that he lives near some of the richest soil in the south, but that the soil is only the way it is because of a huge earthquake that occurred years ago. the earthquake was so massive, it actually moved the mississippi river. what is now some of the south’s richest soil was riverbed of the mississippi before the earthquake. “so you know,” the man said, “we think these natural disasters are so horrible- and they are- but something good usually comes out of them.”

as I’ve had an abundance of spare time to sit here and rediscover chocolate-covered pretzels (yes.) and think, I’ve found myself realizing how counter productive it is to ignore or numb ourselves to our problems. so often, we think we’re saving our lives by living around our problems rather than through them, but in doing so, I think we end up losing our lives (or at least potential pieces of them) instead.

I suppose I should have reviewed, for those less immersed in the eating disorder field, that eating disorders are in most basic terms, destructive efforts to escape negative circumstances or emotions. For me, I cared so much about being thin, that I felt no more than mere fondness for most other aspects of life. As long as I was thin, as long as I knew I ate less and worked our harder than anyone else, it didn’t matter what went wrong or what I lost. In my eyes, nothing could touch me.

But the thing that I failed to consider was the fact that things were touching me, regardless of whether or not I felt like they were. When I experienced disappointment, hurt, failure, betrayal, I thought that the sizes I could wear and the meals I could skip served as some sort of exemption for me from life’s faults- that the bad things weren’t actually bad because they didn’t matter in comparison to my size and I had my size under control.

The times I have been rejected have been most predictive of my downward spirals into my disorder. But no matter how many miles I ran or how many calories I denied myself- even if I would have starved to death itself- there was no way I was ever going to erase the rejection. instead of living and learning through my problems and imperfections and becoming the woman I could have been, I chose to become a person who’d been crippled by her struggles. I sought shelter in what I thought was a tunnel that would allow me to escape life’s troubles unscathed and I immerged a self-afflicted victim of the escape itself.

It is 12:50 pm. I am still sitting, seven hours late arriving home, still going to be thrown off tomorrow after crawling in bed whenever I’m finally afforded such luxury. A few moments ago, a short woman with spiky hair and stark white tennis shoes announced that those of us headed to little rock won’t be leaving until 6:30 am. in other words, i’m about to sleep in an airport.

Tonight, I have experienced to the minute-most degree, how it feels to be displaced. The airport venders are closed and our belongings are in the bottom of a plane- each of us is at the mercy of southwest airlines, and thankfully, they’ve come through with all the food, water, and sodas they have.

Tonight, I have been reminded of what people really need. once our basic needs are satisfied, there isn’t a whole lot we can collect for ourselves in an external sense that’s going to make our lives that much better. Once our basic needs are satisfied, it is to love and be loved, to meet the basic needs of others and to encourage one another the best that we can, that will leave us with feelings of overabundance.

Tonight was a problem. But as I sit here with a heart full from the ways total strangers and I have served one another in a time of need, I have trouble calling tonight a problem at all.

I don’t know who I would be if I’d have lived through my problems, rather than around them via my disorder. but I do know, that I want to bear my problems to their full extent from now on, and trust God to bring beauty from all the ashes.



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