Friday, October 17, 2014

This Frustration Needs a One-Two Punch of Patience

My frustration bores through the ceiling and fills the attic before it pushes it's way through the roof and permeates the atmosphere. I'm afraid I might be the causing damage to the ozone layer. If I had to attach a color to this frustration it would be baby shit yellow. 

Here I sit at the airport in Paducah, Kentucky. It's a small regional airport with typically two departures and two arrivals per day. Chicago's O'Hare is the origination and destination of the plane that services Paducah. I can't remember the last time I flew in to or out of Paducah when there wasn't some sort of a delay—weather in Chicago most often being the culprit. This trip, however, air traffic is the cause. Due to a fire in Chicago that severely damaged an air traffic control tower, air traffic in and out of O'Hare is severely affected. Six days ago the plane that would take me to Paducah couldn't get into O'Hare from Indiana due to congestion in the air. Today the plane, which sits on the Tarmac in Paducah just beyond the door I'm refusing to stare at, can't fly into Chicago due to congestion. Wouldn't it be nice if we could offer the friendly skies a DayQuil that allowed for freer flying with no congestion? But alas, there is no pill for that. Not even in Sky Mall Magazine. The only thing to do is surrender to the seat in the waiting area and remember that this is beyond anyone’s control—mine, the TSA workers in Paducah, the air traffic controllers in Chicago. This delay is for our safety, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. 

A major frustration that is in the control of the TSA agents in Paducah is the security gate. They have a flight that is delayed by an hour and 15 minutes, but we the travelers have to be through security by 3pm because that's when they close the gate. That would be fine if the flight was still at 3pm, but it isn't still at 3pm. It's delayed to 4:15(ish)pm. So we have to say goodbye to our families and sit on the other side of the security gate for an hour while we wait to board our delayed flight. I shouldn't complain. I mean I realize the flight could have been cancelled. Delayed will still get me there. But it won't get me there in time to make my connecting flight. That is frustrating. Instead of getting home around 10pm it will be after midnight. Still nothing to really complain about. On the positive, at least there was a later flight with a seat available (a window, my least favorite. Beggars. Choosers) so I won't have to spend the night in Chicago. 

None of the above airport frustration has anything to do with the yellow, ozone-damaging frustration that started this piece. That frustration has left me discouraged for a different reason. It's a frustration that was born out of an inability to communicate. There are times when I try and take my knowledge (the best having been learned from prior experiences) and use it to try and understand a situation, to try and make a situation better. When I did that very thing this morning I was left shaking my head at my inability to connect in a way that was beneficial for either party. I was left, for lack of a better word, frustrated. I felt myself fighting anger, wanting to shut down, getting quiet. My lips were in a perpetual state pursedness. 

I wanted to connect—needed to. I wanted to be smart, clever, find a way in. I wanted to be a problem solver. I wanted to be someone who could be trusted. Maybe it's not the right time for that.

Then I realized that so much of my present situation was about me and not the person I was trying to help. I was seeing a younger version of me. I was frustrated by the actions of the other person, yes. But I was also frustrated that those actions were reflecting my former selfacting out, wanting attention, sensitive feelings—back at me. Along with my frustration, my present day self was getting in touch with his jealousy. What!? Jealousy? Yes. There was a freedom present that I never experienced. So yes, Jealousy! Reactions change. Age softens people. I was holding on tightly to my past.  Cue Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” 

Ultimately, I realize I was trying to help myself by helping this other person. I can't control the other person I was trying to help, but I can control my response to the actions. Life is a learning process. I'm continuing to learn from my past mistakes and my present mistakes. 

Frustration is a part of life. I encounter it every day. The thing is, I need to figure out how to keep it from weighing me down. I love my Tiffany key, but it's the only thing I want to wear around my neck. Frustration is cumbersome and neither pretty nor optimal. Bitching about its effects is neither beneficial nor productive. I need to figure out how to let go of it and, even as my mind continues to work on a solution, not let it make me angry, stress me out. I'm thinking it's going to take patience, which is something I struggle with finding daily.

I think I'll ponder that as I sit alone in the boarding area in the Paducah airport waiting to board that plane that's waiting to take me home. The only thing in my control is the frustration. It's time to let my pursed lips return to normal, let the knot in my chest release. After all, when has frustration caused anybody anything but added stress...and wrinkles?