My opportunity to practice some really serious yoga came before I’d even boarded the plane to Auckland.
On my way to ten days of yoga teacher training with Shiva Rea, I was feeling sad about leaving my man and my wee man behind.
Really sad, too sad to feel excited.
Standing at the counter, checking my bag through to LA, I handed over my passport.
An old-school ten year passport that doesn’t expire until 2013, and is also – as I was about to find out – not machine-readable.
Which means I can’t use it to fly to the States, unless I also have a machine-readable paper visa. Not just the online visa my travel agent advised me to fill in.
Usually an independent traveler who researches everything, I choose to go with a travel agent for this trip because I wanted to play it safe and make sure I had all the bases covered.
My Mum did say – bless her heart and God how I wish I’d listened to her and followed her advice to the letter! – :
Don’t rely on your travel agent for visa information
But I did just that. Applied for the online visa, and sent that number along with a faxed copy of my passport through to the travel agent. Never did get confirmation from her that she’d received that fax, until I emailed a week or so later. Looking back, I can see that as a clue to the fact she likely didn’t even look at the fax of my passport, just filed it.
If she’d looked at it, she would have seen it was issued in 2003, and something might have twigged as New Zealand didn’t start issuing machine-readable passports until October 2004.
But she didn’t look.
And I didn’t know.
So there I was, standing at the counter of Air New Zealand in front of a very sympathetic staff woman telling me I wouldn’t be allowed on the plane in Auckland to fly to LA for my teacher training.
This is about where my yoga kicked in. There was no time for temper tantrums, or getting angry, or blaming anyone.
Nope, just tell me what I’ve got to do so I can get it done.
In the midst of swinging into damage-control mode, I could feel myself getting distant. Dazed almost. Like I wasn’t quite in my body anymore. That meant there were feelings there… but I wasn’t feeling them. I was disengaging.
This has been my coping mechanism of choice for as long as I can remember, and even after all the yoga and all the meditation, it’s still the reaction my unconscious generates.
Bad feelings – let’s get outta here! But right now, this coping mechanism was exactly what I needed so I could get done what I needed to do.
I called a family member with an awesome PA who got right on to finding out what I needed to do to get that American Visa.
I called my travel agent and told her to get me later flight options.
I said a dazed goodbye to Luke, not wanting to leave him, feeling like I needed him with me to help sort out this mess, or at least hold my hand throughout.
I took a return phone call from the PA in the bathrooms right before the last boarding call, jotting down the details of the website to apply for the visa while kneeling on the toilet floor.
Called my travel agent back and told her which flight to rebook me on based on the hope I could get the visa sorted by then.
And boarded to Auckland, listening to Layne Redmond’s Chanting the Chakras for the entire flight. Didn’t worry. Didn’t think. But still felt oh so dazed.
In Auckland, the reality of the situation began to seep through my disengagement. There was so much to do and no staff to help, no friend to lean on, no where to go.
I felt adrift, and lost, and a bit freaked out. Strove to find focus. Tried to get on the Airport Wireless with my laptop so I could apply for that damn visa and make an appointment at the American Consul for the next morning.
Ha! The only page that would open asked for a login and password, but there was no Register, or Pay or anything.
Tried the Help Desk.
Ha! The poor guy stared at me, asked me to repeat myself as English wasn’t his first language and then started flicking through a folder with laminated info until he got to the Wireless Internet. He knew nothing, the info didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know – that the Register and Pay landing page wasn’t coming up for some strange reason.
Tried the free computers.
Ha! As I got into the application info, discovered it would take up to an hour to fill in and required me to upload a photo that was 2 inches by 2 inches. Nothing doing on public computers.
Back to a different help desk, this time Air New Zealand.
Ha! They couldn’t help, not their department, and apparently there were no Wireless Internet tech staff working at the Airport.
Man oh man… Off to i-site to find out if there’s an internet cafe close-by. Can feel my energy getting anxious. Dropping things. Why is this so damn hard? Why are all these doors closed?
I won’t walk you through the next six hours… but it continues in much the same vein. Constant obstacles. Constant problem solving. Constant focusing on what’s required, and just getting it done.
And moments of emotion welling up as I trod a fine line between using my excellent disengagement abilities to take control of the situation and allowing myself to feel what I was actually feeling.
Gratitude for the very helpful staff at Holiday Inn, who let me use their Wireless Internet for free, made sure I had a drink, booked me into another hotel because they were full, ordered me a discount taxi with a fixed cash rate and let me withdraw money to pay for that taxi. And I wasn’t even their customer.
Panic when I read on the US Embassy website that after the visa interview it takes 3 or 4 days to get the visa sent out.
Relief when my Aunt’s PA confirmed he’d spoken to them and they could do it faster.
Compassion as I was standing on Victoria Street waiting for my visa photos to be processed and printed, and realised I was only a block away from the first restaurant I ever worked at – Midnight Express. This brought back memories of that 19 year old girl, coming to Auckland for the summer, and then staying.
I realised, watching the traffic and the people and listening to the sounds, smelling the smells… that I don’t like Auckland at all. I never did.
So why’d I stay? It certainly wasn’t because I felt drawn to Auckland, or because there was something for me to do there.
Nope. I stayed because I was running away from a broken heart and that pain was more overwhelming than the fact that Auckland wasn’t the right place for me.
This memory, of me back then, brought up that compassion. I didn’t know any better. Disengaging and running from emotional pain was just what I did. Yet those constant unconscious choices were always made from a place of fear, and as a consequence, didn’t create the most wonderful situations.
Now at least, when I disengage, I can feel it. I’m aware that I need to come back. That I need to allow myself to feel whatever there is to feel. That that’s ok. That I can cope. I can deal. Nothing’s too painful. And nothing lasts.
Not the good feelings, not the bad feelings. They all just come and go, and underneath, on top, all around those feelings that come and go… that’s where I truly am. As awareness.
It’s now 9pm and I’m about to go to bed. I just had a stunning meal at Katsura, experiencing waves of gratitude that threatening to spill into tears while I sat at a table by myself soaking up the atmosphere.
Because despite missing my flight, despite having to spend hundreds of dollars as a result, despite knowing I’m missing the beginning of the course… despite all this, sitting in Katsura, I could feel the beauty of life. It’s majesty, it’s brilliance, the pure gift of being alive.
It’s a reminder, once more, that our internal state is not dependent upon our external circumstances. That the miracle of life is there, all the time, a current running underneath the humdrum of every day life, just waiting for us to drop in and feel it.
But we’re all so busy trying to make everything perfect so we can feel great we’ve keep forgetting we don’t need to do anything to feel that magic. It’s just there. Waiting.
Tomorrow morning, at 8:30am I’m off to the American Consulate. I’ve filled in my application online, paid the fee at a PostShop, got passport photos done, collected and printed supporting documentation. There is nothing more I can do. If you’re reading this, it means I got my visa and made my 2pm Qantas flight to LA.
And if you’re not reading it… ah but you are, aren’t you 🙂 ?
LA, here I come!