07 September, 2012

Life Fire Drills

Off the mat.

I store my passport in a strange place. I'm not a very organized person, you see. So, to me, traditional sense of order is not as important as "I just need to be able to find it" kind of order. So, for the longest time, my passport was living in the kitchen, in a random drawer that contains things like recipes, a small flashlight, and other random junk. Not exactly a typical storage location for what is arguably the most important document I own. But I knew where it was. Then, at some point in time, I used my passport for something and, upon completing said use, the passport this time landed in a wooden fruit bowl, on the kitchen counter, among a pile of random items like keys, unused credit cards, and birthday cards that were never sent. Again, not a great location, but all that matters is that I always know where it is.

Thursday night, I was packing for my trip (which I haven't told you about yet, but it does involve the use of a passport). It was around 10pm, and I'd been carefully making piles of the clothes that I need to bring, and the various other items. I actually had a packing list, which is highly not like me, but I wanted to make sure I didn't forget anything. Although the passport (as I said earlier) is arguably the most important document that I own, I didn't worry about it, and didn't even bother to locate it until near the end of this itemization, because I knew exactly where it was. In the wooden fruit bowl. So, around 11pm, it had finally come time to collect the obvious necessities: iPhone charger (that's like my umbilical cord), laptop charger, passport...

And the passport was not there.

The passport was not in the wooden fruit bowl. First thought was that maybe it was back in the kitchen drawer, among the recipes. No such luck. Then I recalled that I had removed a bunch of items from the kitchen counter, when trying to de-clutter, prior to a visit from MaidPro. So, perhaps it was on my desk in my bedroom? No such luck. Now, the searching became a bit more rapid. I began looking in places it was not likely to be. I began looking in places I had already looked. In the car. In closets. I didn't go so far as to look in the refrigerator, but almost that far. The searching went on for nearly an hour, with no passport.

I was nervous, and starting to ponder worst-case scenarios. If I don't find my passport, I am going to have to cancel my trip! Not a good thing! I turn to Google, to see if there's a way to rectify this. What I learn is that it is, indeed, possible to obtain a replacement passport, potentially same day, for a premium of about $280. But you need to schedule an appointment through an automated service. I call to make an appointment, and the earliest time slot is not for 5 days. Too late. And it's almost midnight at this point. I am re-searching for the third and fourth time the places I think it should be. To no avail.

My mind is no longer clear, because I am tired, and adrenalized. But I haven't lost my shit yet. I use the word "yet" because, as recently as a year ago, the probability of me losing my shit, having a meltdown, and taking it out on myself and everyone around me was high enough that loved ones would typically start cringing and running for cover by this point. But, this time, I found myself apologizing to those I'd enlisted to help me in my search, and suggesting that everyone just goes to sleep, and I will take care of it.

I was weighing the options for the moment: (1) keep looking, (2) try to sleep. I was also weighing the options for the morning: (1) keep looking, (2) put all my eggs into the "get a new passport ASAP even if I have to bribe a passport office to give me an emergency appointment." I opted for option (2) from both of the above lists. When I went to bed, I was, of course, not able to fall asleep. 2am and still wide awake. I made one or two more feeble attempts at looking, but only because I couldn't sleep anyway.

My mind started to slow down, and unwind. I was consciously focusing on the breath, and trying to quiet the mind. What is my body actually feeling? Not "what is the worst thing that can happen?" or "oh my god, this sucks!" But just "what do I feel right now, in this moment." And I realized that I didn't actually feel too badly. Mostly I just felt awake. My mind slowly started to process where it could be. I didn't actually have any ideas, but it felt like there was some sort of unconscious mulling occurring as I became more relaxed. Finally, sometime around 3am, I fell asleep.

When I woke up around 6:30am, I went downstairs, went into the closet of the spare bedroom, took down a wicker basket (which had previously been on the kitchen counter), and there was the passport. I didn't know it would be there, but it was the first new idea that came to me when I got out of bed.

A year ago, I would have been lamenting the fact that I lost most of a night's sleep "for nothing." But the feeling I was left with this time was that this was like a "life fire drill." I learned something about how I would react to a potentially major situation. And, though it was not a real emergency, I learned something about myself, which is that I can remain calm, be reasonable, and act to do what is necessary, without attaching a whole lot of drama to it. I credit this entirely to the commitments that I have made to practicing in my life. The yoga has helped me to be in uncomfortable "poses" without reacting and lashing out in response to those unpleasant feelings. And in fact, the feelings themselves, in our bodies, are often not even as bad as our drama-hungry minds make them out to be.

The road is a long one. But I am moving forward.

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