It’s pouring rain today but I feel settled and content.
For almost a week though, Tanya and I were both very unsettled. We’d flown into Queenstown, New Zealand, and only one of our four bags arrived with us – Tanya’s bike box.
We spent the next six days feeling very unsettled. The house we are staying in near Wanaka is great but without our bags things just didn’t feel right. We bought some new underwear, socks, t-shirts, and toiletries, but there was a pervasive uncertainty, which was unsettling. As humans, we tend to need familiarity and predictability, and these were both missing. Apart from making phone calls, there was no obvious action to take. Had we known the bags were lost, we could have started anew, buying things to replace what was lost. We were in limbo, unsure of what would happen, feeling helpless.
Perhaps Tanya and I are psychologically deficient, perhaps some people would relish the insecurity, perhaps we are not sufficiently enlightened, or perhaps just not young enough.
But whatever the cause, we weren’t sure we liked New Zealand, weren’t sure if coming here was a good decision. We did some easy hiking but wondered if we’d wasted our time. We were unable to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings because our minds were hijacked by uncertainty.
And until the bags finally arrived, I did none of my habits that I’m tracking with Goal Streaks. I did’t meditate, I didn’t do pushups, I didn’t write down 10 Ideas. Okay I did one of the habits; I still flossed.
I know that I should have done these things regardless of how I felt. Taking action, regardless of how one feels is a key part of Morita Therapy.
My friend Kathleen Kirk said in a talk that she was once told by a billionaire that the secret to success is to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, regardless of how you feel. Or, as Oliver Burkeman puts it in an article, to be able to do what needs doing, whether or not you feel like it, is pretty close to a superpower.
Obviously I don’t have that superpower. Instead, not knowing whether the bags would ever turn up, we started to fill out the VA baggage claim form. The form wanted a list of the bag contents and the replacement costs. Besides my bike, I guessed at maybe $1,000 in the other bag. After I itemized the contents of the bag from memory, the total came to more than $4,000 – and that was an incomplete list as I discovered when the bag finally arrived. But the money cost was only one aspect – I then wondered how I would replace my custom orthotics and medication.
Thanks to Tanya’s persistence, calling the Virgin Australia baggage services in Brisbane, Sydney, and Los Angeles multiple times a day and asking them to please look around for our bags, we finally got my bike four days late, my bag five days late, and Tanya’s bag six days late.
Now we feel settled. We did a wonderful hike up Roy’s Peak on Saturday, a beautiful bike ride yesterday out towards The Neck between Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, and today it is pouring rain.
But despite the rain I feel relaxed and settled as I type this.
If anyone has any good suggestions – drink and drugs aside – of how to feel settled in the face of uncertainty and frustration, I’d love to read them in the comments section.
Links and Other Clicks
Here’s a link to Oliver Burkeman’s article where he talks about the art of taking action.
Here’s an article about Morita Therapy, and here are a couple of books based on it: The Art of Taking Action, and Constructive Living. I haven’t read the former book but read Constructive Living many years ago and thought it was great – although apparently have not internalized the lessons 😦
Here’s a link to a TED talk given by Pico Iyer that we should have watched before setting out on this trip.
Here’s a link to a page I wrote about our experience with Virgin Australia baggage handling.
What was in your bags that was so important Alec?
Computers and phones, money and IDs in carry on.
What is there to inspire insecurity? I am guessing you could afford to replace all of your stuff if necessary.
What is there to inspire insecurity?