Recently, I was flying home from Los Angeles to Victoria (via Vancouver–that is relevant to the story), after a Family Vacay in Disneyland. Several missteps had occurred before I actually got settled in my seat– including not having pre-selected our seats the day before, being dropped off at LAX’s Terminal 2 instead of Terminal 7 (Thanks Air Canada for not telling me the Air Canada flight I was booked on was actually NOT on an Air Canada plane! Sweet!), figuring out how to use the self-registration scanning/baggage drop off system at United Airlines, the usual fun and games in customs, and a weird pre-boarding boarding pre-view at the gate. Side note: I wonder if it’s purposeful that microphones and loud speakers are given to the employees with the least intelligible speech? Because of some of the set-backs, it turned out we 4 were scattered throughout the plane. Now, this would have been unappealing had this 3 hour flight been on a plane comparable to the one we flew down on– but it was untenable on the 50-seater commuter we found ourselves in, with no movies, no hot meals, no diversions. However, the kindly flight attendant got 2 people to shift so that my kids could sit together, and I had already established a rapport with the lady next to me, so I anticipated a relaxing flight homewards.
Of course, knowing the nature of karma and the instances of foreshadowing, dear reader, you know there are twists ahead.
The older I get, the more I trust both my own intuition, and the power of the universe. Had I been able to pre-select our seats, I would not have connected with somebody I call a “Messenger” (more on that in a minute), the kids would not have had their own story to tell of the adventure of sitting together apart from me, and who knows what other turn of events might have presented themselves, especially in light of the medical emergency (oh yes, one more thing to add to the tally). For an hour and a half prior to the excrement hitting the wind machine, I enjoyed an interesting and varied conversation with my seatmate, whom I came to realize had a Message for me. I believe the universe sends these people to you (and yes, I know that is a highly illogical position for an IT person to take, but programming and logic boards aren’t all I think about). These people have a message that you need to hear. If you don’t heed the message, it will be delivered to you again until you get it. I try to be open to these messages, and usually I recognize them.
After chatting for some time about schools (“I’m a teacher, actually”) and art (“Funny you say you attract artists to your life, I’m an art historian”) and traveling abroad (in tandem: “Oh the Full English breakfast!”), we became aware of a flurry of activity just a few rows behind us. When the flight attendant hurried past with the oxygen tank, we knew there was trouble, even before the loudspeaker call for “Anyone with medical training”. I peeked backwards and recognised the family in peril. I had spoken to them briefly at the gate, and noticed that the littlest child–a tyke of about 4 or 5–had a barky-sounding cough. I said to my seatmate that I feared the little guy might be asthmatic, because I had heard him coughing earlier. She asked if it was that I knew the sound, and I said that it was more just a feeling I got–and energy I picked up on, “If you believe that sort of thing”. And that was her invitation to deliver her message to me–a lengthy and detailed chat about energy work, therapies and therapists she recommends, and the exchange of email addresses. I needed to be reminded that I had work to do, and these were the tools I might need. Throughout the rest of our talk, we kept watch on the family. As it happened, it was not the son but the teenage daughter who had fainted and was proving difficult to revive, but in the end was able to leave the plane under her own steam.
Parting words from my seatmate that confirmed we were meant to sit together and share our stories: “You know, I NEVER talk to people on a plane. I board, say hello, and read my magazine (indicates unopened ‘New Yorker’ on her lap). I have never talked to a stranger for 3 hours on a flight…. really, never”. I thanked her for all she had shared, promised to email, and we shared one last sigh of relief that our fellow passenger was ok.
Despite–or, maybe, because–of all of this whirling about in my head, as we made our way into the airport to change planes for the final leg of our journey home, I had a little quibble of doubt, a niggling little tickle of unease, and looked through my paperwork for the luggage tag that had been created at LAX. Sure enough, the bag had not been checked all the way through, and while it meant we had to collect it, leave the secure area, re-check in, re-pass-through-security and re-trace our steps to the next gate, it also meant that all of our luggage arrived at our final destination, when we did. Why did I pause at the only spot that would have allowed us to collect the bag and carry on? What made me even doubt how it was tagged? *shrug*. So while we enjoyed the miracle of human flight, benefited from a myriad of high tech communication devices, relied on computers to keep us safe, get us home and provide our care givers potentially life-saving information, I was reminded– and rewarded–to use my intuition–the oldest form of communication there is.
As we made our way for the last time through baggage check, and security, and to our final gate, the kids regaled us with their own stories of how the flight attendant asked two people to shift so they could sit together; how they wanted a can of Pringles, but only had cash and no credit card, so they decided just to share the sandwich they had brought on; how they both asked for ginger ale, and so ended up with a full can to share; and their own version of what they saw when the attendants were trying to revive the young passenger. I was struck that while we had all been on the same plane, we each of us had had a much different flight. And isn’t that the way we all bumble along in this universe, traveling together, but on our own distinct path….