So I’m on my yearly migration to Africa, where I go to molt, feed, and mingle with others of my species. Every time I make the trip, I’m so grateful and happy. And miserable. And terrified.
It’s not Africa that bothers me; it’s getting there.
I admire but don’t understand people who love travel for its own sake. I have enough trouble puttering around my house; flying to places with utterly different time zones just seems gratuitous.
Eckhart Tolle says that there are only three feeling states for people who live in the Now: acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, which means “filled with God,” kicks in when you’re doing what you love, with people you love, in places you love. Enjoyment is how you experience things that are, y’know, okay. Acceptance is the emergency go-to state for times when you’re not in your element.
Once I get to Africa, I’ll be eyeballs-deep in enthusiasm. But to find acceptance for the actual trip, I must assume the ragged mantle of the Airport Hobo, my alter ego who—this is the important part—only knows the world of air travel. I can’t even let myself think how much I’d like to be doing something else. For Airport Hobos, there is only Now: security screenings, boarding passes, inappropriately timed sunlight.
Each trip, I take a new Airport Hobo name (last trip, Numbbum Eyebag; this trip, Imaculatta Tinkleplenty). I tell Airport Hobo stories. I sing Airport Hobo songs (“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane…”). I hunt hot outlets. I flee from babies.
This works so well I’ve started Hobo-ing in other circumstances, such as waiting for a medical exam or talking to my accountant. Try it. When you absolutely can’t find enthusiasm or enjoyment, become the Acceptance Hobo of whatever it is you must do: the Laundry Hobo, the Office Temp Hobo, the Parent-Teacher Conference Hobo. Name yourself. Then accept your progress one present moment at a time. Later, you can tell the tale over many a crackling fire to generations yet unborn.
And forgive me if, when we pass each other, I don’t wave. Airport Hobo means no harm. Airport Hobo only recognizes passport photos. And Airport Hobo’s tiny, jet-lagged brain is entirely occupied accepting the Now.