You Make Plans and then There’s Life: Typhoon Edition
“I should be getting on a budget airline to Bali right now.”
Instead, I was looking out the window of my friend’s living room in Taipei, listening to Typhoon Hinnamnor spit rain down onto tin rooftops. Stray cats hide under A/C units screwed into the walls. Trees snap in the wind and take a beating from the sky.
But I’m cozy and warm. I’m hosted by two lovely humans that are so caring. A hot matcha latte ready to be drunk.
The flight cancellations, attempts at rebooking, trauma of Trip.com’s circus-like service, and general feeling of being on “the edge of my seat” waiting to see if I will leave has been… interesting.
In the last 48 hours I really noticed just how easy it is for my mind to get consumed by my emotions.
And with that in mind, I’ve marinated on lessons learned on letting go during this time — and let’s be honest, the entirety of the pandemic, too.
Nothing is guaranteed
People loooove to have guarantees. We hang onto them like a sloth to a branch. Because we all want to have some element of control over our lives. It’s normal.
The world feels scary when we have no control. Driving 100km/h can induce much more anxiety in a car controlled by AI. We all cling to the belief that we’ll wake up tomorrow, healthy and alive.
Choosing when to go out or what to do are freedoms we took (and once again, take) for granted pre-pandemic. Being able to get what we want, when we want it is expected.
Holding this expectation in life will only bring disappointment, frustration, and resentment.
Instead I practice this
Paying attention to the good things I have (cozy house, nice friends, food in my belly, etc.) reminds me how fortunate I am. Truly appreciating these fortunes in my life comes when I take time to contemplate with intention. Taking these mindful moments helps me zoom out to the big picture.
✌️ Meditation and breathwork
Meditating is an invaluable practice. And you can do it in many different ways — finding the one that suits you is a worthwhile pursuit. I also tried a Pranayama breathwork class and can attest: it was incredibly relaxing. Anything that forces you to be present will help alleviate stress.
🤟 Choosing the positive
I learned that any obstacle in life is just a reflection of our own negativity. Imagine you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you see dirt. You try to wipe the mirror, but with no effect. Your reflection remains dirty. Instead, you need to clean your own face to see a clean reflection in the mirror.
Just like with life, you need to need to clean and purify your own thoughts. Your mind is powerful — it can completely change the way you perceive reality.
Choosing to be positive is hard. So instead, you can start by asking simple questions: What is this situation showing me about myself? What can I learn from this situation? How can I do better with my own actions and words?
The chance that you were born is a damn miracle. Human life is precious, random, chaotic, entropic, and completely uncertain. We can’t expect everything to go our way because, instead, things often go sideways.
Don’t ‘catastrophize’ something that hasn’t happened
Catastrophizing is a great way to describe the phenomenon of looking into the future and imagining the worst. Then reacting to this imagined story.
We all do it — some more than others. It’s human. What I learned recently is that our brains are just programmed that way. We are subconsciously (and consciously) looking out for danger or risks in our environment.
But that doesn’t mean we have to listen to our lizard brain ruled by fight or flight.
We can actively stop ourselves from spiralling. And that makes all the difference between feeling good now, or feeling anxious as hell.
The reality is: because nothing is guaranteed, you can’t predict the outcome.
Even if a similar thing went wrong in the past. Even if you heard of someone else’s bad experience. Even if you’re just in a negative mood…
Any outcome is possible and there’s literally no use in panicking about the future. It will only ruin the present.
Any excuse to rest should be appreciated
In our world, as adults (assuming you are an adult human reading this), we are fricken busy. Busy bees just zipping around, constantly moving and making plans and doing this and working on that.
It’s actually quite hectic. When’s the last time you really spent a couple of weeks — let alone days — just resting?
Even vacations now are packed full of activities! We have to go see this famous thing, and then eat at that recommended restaurant. Then all of a sudden your week has disappeared and you’re back at work.
Time moves very very fast as an adult, I’m realizing.
It’s essential to take time to slooooow down. So I’m grateful for any opportunity to do just that.
The 2 days of forced rest were a freakin’ godsend. Even though I had to be on the phone attempting to communicate with robot-like agents in Trip.com’s absolute gong show of a company.
What I did instead of getting on my connecting flights to Bali:
- Read my book
- Wrote this article (and a few other things)
- Listened to great podcasts
- Learned Pranayama breathing
- Did yoga and went for walks
It was amazing. After 2 months of nonstop action, travel, packing up my life, go go go… this was a forced, but very welcomed, rest.
It’s been a minute since I actually traveled (a minute = 2.5 years in pandemic time) and I had to dust off my ol’ thinking cap when it comes to planning and booking things. A quick google search would have shown just how horrible this company is — but I guess it was a lesson I needed to learn the hard way.
Don’t be like me. Avoid Trip.com like you would a COVID hotspot 😷