Scott’s Thoughts: A Trip to the Airport

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”

-Laozi, Philosopher and poet of ancient China.

Man idle at the airport.
Have you ever been to the airport when you didn’t have a flight to catch? I’m not talking about dropping off a friend or picking up a relative. I mean visiting the airport when you don’t have a ticket to fly. Probably not, I’m guessing.

Airports are not known for being relaxing. Stressful? Sure. Exciting? Often, but it depends. How late you arrive, where you’re going, why you’re there… all of it has an impact on your thoughts, feelings, and stress level. (Imagine a business trip, versus a funeral trip, versus an exotic vacation, for example.)

But when you’re at the airport with nowhere to go, the experience is quite different. In this state, you can be an observer, detached, watching the traffic of business and pleasure pass without placing yourself in the center of the bustle. The experience can be surprisingly relaxing.

Our minds can be a lot like airports: Busy, crowded, filled with rules, full of opportunities to hurry up and wait. They’re also our gateway to the rest of the world. Our thoughts, emotions, desires, and fears are like the traffic crowding the terminals, security checkpoints, and baggage claim.

Most of the time we engage our minds like a purposeful trip to the airport and find ourselves completely immersed in the anxieties, pleasures, and pains of trying to get somewhere as fast as possible.

What I would gently suggest is using this mental model as a way to help yourself find moments of clarity and stillness in your life. Take five or ten minutes every morning to approach your mind like you might a casual, go-nowhere trip to the airport. Go as an observer of your thoughts and not a fellow traveler.

Sit back and notice. Visit without stress or judgement or intent. Resist the urge to buy a ticket just yet. You might find the practice a way to experience a daily staycation.

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