It’s any old Tuesday night, except that I find myself on an impromptu interisland flight to Maui. I’m sitting smack in the middle of a large group of eight year-old boys, who also happen to be the Maui All Stars Baseball Team. The little munchkins have just won the state championship and they are ecstatic. The plane takes off and the flight attendants attempt the usual formalities, but not for long. They quickly realize that being heard over the chaos of champions is a lost cause.
Several hours earlier, I begin my day with a morning hike. Despite tropical rain showers, we climb the costal mountain, in search of epic views and rainbows. We return happy and covered in mud, but my phone does not survive the rainstorm. Only as I stand in the airport, waving goodbye to my friends as they board our flight to San Francisco, do I realize that I am alone on an island, with a semi-useless standby ticket and no technology.
I proceed to spend the rest of the afternoon sitting outside at the airport café, bathing in the warmth of tropical air, sipping iced tea, and writing in a paper notebook. I let go of urges to check social media. I acknowledge my dependency on things like music to mediate my mood, and my dependency on mood to mediate my actions. Hours fly by and I write more in that notebook, than I have on my laptop in months. Not for a minute, am I bored.
Now here I am, in the middle of a pool of chaotic, bouncing, squirming, shouting little boys. My headphones are useless, so instead of trying to distract myself from my surroundings, I sink into the sound of life around me and I enjoy it. The anxiety of being disconnected has subsided and it doesn’t really matter that the day’s plans have been derailed. With this comes the realization that when I’m not running from one to-do item to the next, when I am ejected from the inertia of “keeping my shit together,” life starts to look a little bit different.
And somehow it is attention without agenda that makes accessing a sense of wonder quite natural. What should have been a five-hour trip turns into a 20-hour journey, but the day is by no means a disaster. It is a luxurious liberation from attachment to certainty and the way that plans tend to dissipate our sense of possibility. If nothing else, today’s lesson is that sometimes getting derailed is exactly what we need. It brings us back to a place where we remember how to see life around us. Like the ecstatic joy of little boys who have just fulfilled their wildest dreams and are now shouting the victory cheer of champions. I too marvel at the possibility of this delightful day.