life · thoughts

Blue skies, shining sun, and oxygen

I’m travelling for work today, flying from Ohio to California. This is rare because my role is 100% remote, so I work from home every day. But this week, they’ve requested everyone to fly or drive in and attend a few meetings. It’s great actually – good timing because I just started with this organization 7 weeks ago, so this is a good opportunity for me to meet my manager and co-workers in person.

My original plan was good – fly out in the morning, arrive before noon, meet the team, and be able to attend meetings this afternoon. But the weather has been less than stellar today. A winter storm developed across the Midwest and dumped 4-6” in my area of Ohio. I was flying out of CVG (Northern Kentucky Greater Cincinnati Airport) and had a connection in Chicago’s O’Hare airport. I made sure to wake up early (1:30am to be exact) and left my house just as the snow was starting. Driving in near white-out conditions for part of the trip, plus heavy sleet and rain for the other part of the drive made my (early) morning a bit stressed. But I arrived at CVG in good shape and three and a half hours before my flight.

What I didn’t know was that this winter storm was carving a wide path across the Midwest and affecting flights in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare airport. South of Cincinnati, the weather was just rain, so that was not an issue. But my flight was delayed because O’Hare was experiencing major delays and had called a ‘Ground Stop’ at one point. We finally got the clearance to take off and head for Chicago. It was pouring rain at CVG and as we flew towards Chicago, we were flying into that winter storm. There was so much turbulence and dark gray and white clouds and fog. It looked like we were standing still because you couldn’t make out any movement or progress when looking out the window – just a mass of white and gray all around.

What was fascinating though was that as we gained altitude to get above and out of the turbulent conditions, the sky turned blue, and the sun was shining.

It was one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments where I realized that even though the weather was totally awful down below on the ground and the snow was pelting down, and the sky was dark gray (when on the ground looking up), the sun was still there and still shining, and the skies were blue. We just had to get above the turbulent winter storm.

I’ve heard that hopeful thought before, but today was a nice reminder after a stressful morning.

Going through life, when you see clouds and storms all around you, remember to look above the clouds. The sun is still there. It is always shining. And the skies are blue. It’s a nice reminder to keep your hope. The storms in life don’t last forever, even the ones that last a long time. And when the storms pass, the sun and the blue skies will be there.

I did arrive in Chicago safely and was super thankful for that. But I missed my connecting flight by about 30 minutes. So I was rerouted through Dallas and then on to San Francisco. This has caused me to miss my meetings for today, which I’m disappointed about, but I’m thankful that my travel has been safe and that I am getting to California this afternoon, just about 6 hours later than originally planned. When I arrived in Dallas Fort Worth earlier on my flight from Chicago, it was a gloomy, dark, and cloudy day there. But at least there was no snow or ice or heavy rain.

Taking off from DFW, I experienced the same ‘ah-ha’ moment. The gray and cloudy skies gave way to blue skies and the sun shining as we gained altitude, just as it was on my flight from CVG to ORD (Cincinnati to O’Hare). Cruising at 30,000 feet and looking down on the fluffy, marshmallow mattress of clouds, the brightness of the sun and the blue of the sky gave me another chance to feel grateful for my safe travel today and to realize that when life seems gray and dark remember to think ‘above the clouds’ and the sun will be there shining down surrounded by blue skies.

Because this is my 3rd flight of the day, I’ve heard the pre-flight speech 3 times today. I’m sure you know it. The exits are located here and here (as the flight attendant points), in the event of a water landing life vests are located under your seat, and there is emergency lighting located along the aisle. The other main part of that pre-flight intro speech is the oxygen mask part. In the event of cabin pressure failure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead panels. And there is always the guidance to put your own mask on first before assisting children or anyone else with their mask.

I’ve heard a lot of references to that part of the speech. You can’t help others if you pass out from lack of oxygen on a plane. And similarly, you can’t help others in life if you are not taking care of yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup. So, remember to take care of yourself, or you won’t be able to take care of others.

But the part that struck me today was the sentence that comes after the ‘put your mask on first before helping others’ sentence. It is the ‘even though the bag may not inflate, be assured that oxygen is flowing’ sentence. And I think there’s a spiritual connection to observe in that sentence.

With the oxygen bag, even though it might not be inflating, be assured that oxygen is flowing. And we need oxygen to live. And in life I think we need some spiritual connection (whatever that is for you) as much as we need oxygen. But, sometimes we can’t see the bag inflating (spiritually) and it’s easy to lose hope and lose our spiritual connection, and lose our faith in GUS (God, Universe, Spirit). But be assured, your spiritual connection is always there and always flowing into your life, even though we can’t ‘see the bag inflating.’ 

Wishing you safe travels throughout life, blue skies, sunshine, and oxygen…