My Turbulent Flight
“You are now free to move about the cabin” , we have all heard this saying when we fly. In other words until you hear that ding in the airplane, don’t get out of your seat because you might fall over and get hurt. This is due to the plane going through the layer of clouds that make the plane shake before it gets above them. The past few years of my life have been that turbulent time, and going at too sharp of an angle upwards for me to be comfortable. I felt like I was in a plane walking around when I shouldn’t be, and not knowing where it was taking me. There were familiar faces on the plane, from my past and present mixed in with strangers that looked at me as if they knew me. Some people were yelling at me to sit down! They were scared for me, and scared for themselves that I was going to fall on them. Other people were telling me I could do it, to keep standing and that I could handle it. I was surrounded by people giving me advice, but I felt dizzy, unsure and I felt alone. There was nothing to grip on to as the plane moved upwards at tremendous speed. All sorts of thoughts went through my head; I might fall and hit my head and die, luggage might come flying out of the compartments and injure me, I might pass out from shear fear. But, I stayed standing and through all the chaos of people shouting at me to sit down, I started to hear the calm voices of the people on the plane that had been where I was. They urged me forward, their eyes penetrated me and gave me strength, they smiled knowingly and told me I was going to be ok. I listened to them on pure faith, because I needed help, and I knew that I had to ride out the turbulence if I wanted to stay on the journey.
The journey led me to leave the place I called home for the past 22 years. I left two weeks ago, not with anger or bitterness but with gratitude. I was a different person 22 years ago. My focus was my new baby and my family. 22 years ago, I left my job in San Francisco and moved to Portland Oregon on pure faith because I knew it would be a better environment to raise my daughter. And I feel confident in that decision. My daughter was able to stay a kid longer, and have access to beautiful parks and outdoor activities. We were an hour from the beach and an hour to the mountains in Portland, and we did family vacations to both every summer. We had a great life, and a great family.
My daughter went off to college in Seattle in 2016, and with her not being in Portland I started to look around and see what there was for me. It was her turn to explore and find herself, and also my turn to find my new self. What did I want the next chapter of my life to look like? I didn’t know. The pace of Portland that was perfect for a young family started to feel slow and stagnant to me. I started traveling more and exploring, and that is when I found my new home, and I knew it the first time I visited. Just like I knew Portland would be a great place for our family, I knew I needed to be in Redondo Beach, California for my next chapter. How I was going to get here was another question all together.
So began my journey of getting on the plane and trying to figure it all out. And 2 weeks ago I did it, I moved here. There is a calm that has come over me since I have been here, and even though I am living alone for the first time in 20 years, I don’t feel lonely. My new coworkers have been congratulating me for moving back to California even though they know nothing about my journey. Somehow I feel like they do know, and they are all a part of the process. I feel like they have been waiting for me to get here, like I have been waiting to come here. When I drive home from work and see the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean and the Palm trees slowly waving at me, I feel like I am in a dream. And all I can say to myself is, ‘Thank you!’
Pain is inevitable in life, to avoid pain is to spend energy on distraction or numbing out. I have learned that when I feel pain the only way to deal with it is to face it head on. The pain of avoiding pain is much worse than just feeling it. Pain comes to tell us that we need to change, or look at something. Pain is not a bad thing, it is an indicator that something isn’t right. Just like if you have pain in your stomach you are going to pay attention, and if it gets bad enough you will go to the doctor and get some X-rays. If you don’t go to the doctor, it could get worse and develop into something that will make you unhealthy. It is the same with emotional pain. Emotional pain that is avoided and pushed under the rug can make you sick. I have learned that pain is a necessary part of life, and I can choose if I want the pain of growing, or the pain of staying stagnant and distracted.
I am still on that plane, and on my journey but I feel like it is safe to get up and move around. This is the time in my life to explore and try new things. I have so much pent up expression in me that has been dying to get out, not only in my art and writing, but in life. I am ready to embrace life, and engage in what will come my way. I am excited and ready for the challenges that I know will come. I am the type of person that thrives in learning and growing. Being still and stagnant is like death to me.
This is not the last time I will get on the turbulent plane with the destination unknown. But next time, I will have the skills to handle it better. I will say, ‘Oh yes, I remember this!’ And I will remember that I survived it last time and got to a better place. I can’t control my life, I can’t predict my life, but I can board the plane and get through the turbulence of going through the clouds so that I can get above them, to my cruising altitude.