It’s not my intention use this blog space to write about my air travel experiences but, totally coincidentally, this, my second post, relates to an experience I had in an airplane recently. My wife and I were heading north for the holidays from our home in Naples, Florida. Everything went smoothly during the boarding and, to our delight we discovered that virtually every single middle seat was going to be empty on the flight. “Stretch out and relax everyone” announced the flight attendant. So far, so good! Of course, just as they closed the doors and we were ready to pull away from the gate, the pilot came on the intercom and alerted us to an incident that had occurred at our destination airport. “Unfortunately, folks, we will not be taking off any time soon due to the fact that there is a malfunctioning light in the runway at your destination that will take some time to repair. Meanwhile, all planes in that airport have returned to their gate, and over 100 flights have been diverted to area airports until further notice. So we apologize for the delay but sit back, try to relax, and we’ll keep you posted.” Well, this is where it occurred to me that we have some choices to make. How I respond to this situation will 100% affect how I get through what turned out to be the next two hours of our trip.
What was really interesting was observing how other people on the plane were reacting to this news. The man sitting right in front of me had a complete meltdown, as if his life depended on him getting to Baltimore on time. “This is crazy, this is BS, I want off this plane.” He immediately started trying to rebook flights and he wasn’t quiet about it. He was trashing the airport, the airline, and the pilot, blaming everyone involved. Wow! He was completely 100% immersed in victim-mode and blamed the world for his problem. He was angry and letting everyone within earshot know about. A man on the other side of the aisle was a bit more stoic but complained nonetheless. He wanted to share with the flight attendants what his solution to the problem would be. “Don’t they have more than one runway? Can’t we just land on the other runway?” He went straight into “fix it” mode, as if the air traffic controllers didn’t understand what their options were. Yet another person decided to just hunker down and relax. As he stood up to stretch, he realized that he knew the man behind him. He glad-handed him and talked his ear off for the next 30 minutes. And he had a blast, interacting with the flight attendants. Not sure the attendants were so amused however.
The point of telling you this story is, we have a choice as to how we choose to respond to stressful situations and disappointment. Sure, I was disappointed we weren’t taking off on time; I was ready to go and I was certainly ready to be home. But this is the moment when I pulled out my “superpower”. Do you remember when Clark Kent would get the distress call then slip into a phone booth or closet at work to begin his transformation into Superman? He would rip open his shirt and reveal the Superman emblem on the front of his costume. The theme song would play. Next thing you know, he’s jumping off a building, flying to the trouble and coming in to save the day. Well, it occurred to me that patience is my superpower. Now, some people in my family might laugh when they read this. But patience is not something that you deploy 100% of the time. Very few people can do that. You really would have to be a superhero in order to pull that off I think. Can you imagine Superman walking around all the time dressed in his cape and costume; in his red and blue tights? People would start to take him for granted. I think it was the transformation from Clark Kent to Superman that created all the drama, and his discretion as to when to show up was where the power was. That’s what has to happen when we get disappointing news or when we’re interrupted from our plan due to circumstances beyond our control. That’s the moment when we make our transformation. That’s when we decide now’s the time for patience to be deployed; not all the time.
My wife and I sat back and chilled out. She read a book, I listened to some music, and I continued writing the manuscript for my book. I actually saw this as an opportunity to have some relatively quiet time while we waited patiently for the plane to take off. Before you know it, two hours went by pretty fast, and we had some interaction with a few other passengers that made it even more interesting. The takeaway here is simply this: you get to choose. You get to choose how you show up in the world; you get to choose how you respond versus react to situations that aren’t going your way. You can choose to be kind or you can choose to be mean. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be miserable. It’s all up to you. You do have 100% control over that!


For me, I keep my “patience costume” underneath my everyday clothes, and I try to save it for those moments when that “superpower” will be deployed to its greatest effect. We can’t be “superheroes” all day, every day, but knowing that you have that superpower sure does go a long way to making life roll along a lot more smoothly, especially in situations like traveling, having family home for the holidays and all the other chaos that comes with this time of the year.

We made it home safely that day, about 2 hours late, but we were no worse for the wear and quickly moved on to the excitement of being back in Maryland and getting ready for the holidays. Life is about choices. Choose wisely and responsibly!