Behind Every Cloud

I am staring in horror at a revised itinerary sent to me by Aeroplan for my return from London to Vancouver in April. I have been routed from London to Toronto, Toronto to Calgary then Calgary to Vancouver. Can it get much worse? I have to be at Heathrow by 7.00 in the morning; I will not get home until about nine in the evening; that is going to be about 23 hours of travel for a flight that should be half that. Surely they are kidding, it feels like some kind of cosmic joke.

I pause for a moment and take a deep breath; in my worldview I commit “to learn and find meaning from the experiences of my life.” I take another deep, calming breath; I still feel irritated by the aggravation of having to sort this out but I know I need to stay calm and observe the desire to become triggered. I suspect this yet another exploration of my complexes around fairness, not getting my own way and likely overall patience. I call Aeroplan and try to short cut the automated system by pressing zero. It works; I am on hold for an agent; one never knows just how long this can take but it is a surprisingly brief interval before I hear a response. Then nothing; I can hear her but she can’t hear me. After a few increasingly frantic hellos, I give up and sit, bringing my attention once again to the breath; it helps to calm and bring on a more reflective state. I decide to draw a rune; I get Defense; unenthusiastically I drop it back in the bag; it is a familiar symbol; it’s all about being tested and having patience, “right action during a trying time”. As I write this I realize that my commitment to learn from life does not mean I always enjoy it!

I resolve to do the best I can and pick up the phone once more. Eventually I get through and this time we can both hear each other. At first it is somewhat frustrating; she understands my concern but explains patiently that sometimes the schedule changes so the airline has no choice but to rearrange my plans. She offers me an alternative; I leave Heathrow a little later which will be more convenient, then fly to Montreal then on to Calgary before flying to Vancouver. I am staggered, if anything this routing will take even longer. I focus on my breath and explain calmly that this still requires two stops. “Well I am sorry but they have cancelled the London to Calgary flight,” she tells me, “so you have to stop somewhere to get to Calgary.”

I observe my increasing irritation, I can see the complex doing its work; I take a deep breath and state clearly, “But I have no desire to go to Calgary, I am just trying to get home.” It is the breakthrough moment, “oh I thought you wanted to go to Calgary.” “No I live in Vancouver, I was routed via Calgary by Aeroplan.” There is a pregnant pause and I sense a ray of light at the end of the tunnel that is not a train. She tells me there is only one direct flight from London to Vancouver at 10.25, could I make that? I suppressed my joy and said that would be no problem. She puts me on hold, as she has to talk to her supervisor. I notice I am holding my breath. Is it possible that this cloud has the perfect silver lining? I force myself to breathe and try not to get too attached; it is not easy.  She returns to tell me that it will take twenty minutes to finalize but they will book me on the direct flight. Now my delight is unrestrained, “You are my hero” I say, “Thank you for making my day.

It is only when the revised itinerary arrives that I can fully hold my good fortune. Flight AC 855, Executive First to Vancouver, on a brand new 777 and no $75 change fee, it does not get any better than that. A couple of Rumi poems come to mind. The first is from a longer one titled A Great Wagon “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want, don’t go back to sleep.” The other begins like this, “This being human is a guest house, every morning a new arrival. A joy, a meanness, a depression, a momentary awareness, welcome and entertain them all….. Still treat each guest honourably, he may be clearing you out for some new delight.” The wisdom of the Sufi master over eight hundred years ago, he seemed to be a depth psychologist long before Freud and Jung.

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