Family/CommunicationReflectionAugust 28, 20142Staying Amazed

We're living in a world that people 100 years ago couldn't have imagined. It seem goofy to be bored.

Tomor­row my hus­band and I are fly­ing to Hong Kong.  I have client work to do there, and he was able to take the time off (since he’s now his own boss) to join me.  We were talk­ing this morn­ing about what a pain it’s going to be, hav­ing to be stuck on an air­plane for 16 hours. But at least, we not­ed, we’re trav­el­ing in busi­ness, and so will be able to get some sleep.

Then I start­ed think­ing about my dad’s dad’s par­ents, two young immi­grants from Den­mark, Nils Ander­sen and Mina Jen­son, who met work­ing on a farm in upstate New York. They mar­ried, saved their mon­ey, bought a wag­on, and trav­eled to Nebras­ka to start a new life on a farm of their own — tak­ing advan­tage of the Home­stead Act that offered free land to any­one who filed a claim and lived there for five years. It took them — and this is the point of the sto­ry — just over 2 months to make the journey.

So, only 125 years ago, my great-grand­par­ents spent 2 months jolt­ing along in an open wag­on in the broil­ing sun, fend­ing off hunger, thirst, wild ani­mals and god knows what else, in order to get to their des­ti­na­tion just 1,200 miles away.  And I’m bitch­ing about being pam­pered in a lux­u­ri­ous, enter­tain­ment-equipped, ful­ly-cli­mate-con­trolled envi­ron­ment for 16 hours while I trav­el 8,000 miles.

There are so many aspects of this jour­ney about which I should be absolute­ly amazed, vs. whiny and jad­ed. It’s actu­al­ly amaz­ing to me that air­planes even work, just to begin with, let alone what’s evolved out of that unbe­liev­able real­i­ty over the past century.

I noticed that as soon as I shift­ed my focus from “I hate long flights” to “It’s amaz­ing that this is pos­si­ble” — my entire emo­tion­al state about the trip start­ed to change. Now I’m feel­ing kind of excit­ed, not only about being in Hong Kong (the first time for me) — but also about the flight itself.  It’s like being in a high-end hotel for 16 hours, mov­ing at unimag­in­able speeds…that’s pret­ty fas­ci­nat­ing.  I sus­pect I’ll now expe­ri­ence that 16 hours dif­fer­ent­ly than I would have oth­er­wise; that I may enjoy it a good deal more, and that I may find oth­er use­ful or inter­est­ing under­stand­ing or ideas arise from the experience.

So much of what sur­rounds us these days is sim­ply aston­ish­ing, and is unlike any­thing that’s ever exist­ed in human his­to­ry. It’s easy to for­get that, to get ho-hum and com­pla­cent.  But I find that when I step back and allow myself to be aston­ished, good things hap­pen. It opens up my brain and my heart, and I can see sit­u­a­tions, events and pos­si­bil­i­ties in new ways.

Note to self: stay amazed. 


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