When I first learned my flight out of Krasnodar, Russia was cancelled and that meant I’d miss my connecting Moscow flight back to New York, fear pulsed through my veins. Suddenly, the already long 13 hour journey home would become a 36 hour experience. My mind flash-forwarded revealing my future: dry airport meals, intermittent wifi connection, and a single pair of clean underwear.
Just imagining the 12 hour overnight layover I’d have in Moscow weighed on the part of me that turns into a salty zombie when sleep-deprived. I imagined the cricked neck I’d receive in exchange for sleeping at the gate, gripping my purple carry-on bag to use as a pillow and as a means to prevent someone from running away with it while I snored.
I pictured the many security lines I’d meander through, the customs check-in both in Moscow and again in New York, the long taxi ride from JFK to Jersey City. 36 hours of travel from Krasnodar to New York and I had already mentally lived each one and dreaded the soon-to-be reality of actually doing it.
Then I took a deep breathe and told myself…take it one hour at a time.
It was going to be a long journey home but what sense would it make to daydream the entire saga? If I was going to survive this trip, I’d need to live in the moment. So I did, taking it one hour at a time.
When it was 11PM in Moscow and I was sipping cranberry infused water while waiting for my dinner to arrive, I was only thinking of my dinner, how refreshing my drink was, and how happy I was to be sitting in a big comfy leather chair. Then when it was time to board the flight back to New York the next morning, I was only thinking about which seat I’d stop at to push my luggage over-head instead of concentrating on the 9 hour flight ahead.
Taking it one hour at a time had allowed the entire journey to move by more quickly than I had originally anticipated. Plus, it also helped me to actually enjoy the process rather than focus on future moments I would be discouraged by.
Now that I’m back in New York, mindfulness is something I continue to struggle with but deeply desire. And so I practice and take my weeks, days, and mornings with the same mindset as I did while traveling. By doing that, I have made room for the benefits of mindfulness to creep into my life…one hour at a time.