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Blue Sky

Living As If We Know We’ll Be Okay: Everyday Magic, Day 1068

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

In one of my favorite movies, About Time, the main character, who can time travel, hatches a great plan: he’ll live each day with all its waking up exhausted, rushing through big halls, and navigating crowded subways where some guy blasts loud music on his phone. Then he’ll live the same day again knowing what small or big annoyances await him, and now able to enjoy even the little setbacks. But after a while, he realizes he can simply live each day once, guided by the perspective that he’s going to be okay, so why not delight in the miniature of life instead of boarding the anxiety train?

I think of this movie often, especially when a free ticket to the anxiety train is placed in my hand. Yesterday, waiting for the bus at Kansas City International Airport, which was very late, then packed to sardine capacity, I started to worry, especially when the stopped at every station in my parking lot, then all the parking lots, stuffing and squeezing in more people. “Remember About Time,” I told myself, along with directing myself to take long, deep breaths. I would make my flight, I might not get an ideal seat (Southwest Airlines), but the flight to Denver was short. Besides, the sunset was glorious and people were making jokes about almost sitting in each other’s laps to accommodate more riders.

I needed to tell myself all this in triplicate when we landed in Denver, which I soon discovered was the third busiest airport in the world, plus I had no idea how to find the passenger pick-up exit where my friend would be waiting. I asked for directions, but in the rush of thousands of people walking vast distances through airport shopping malls and herding ourselves onto and off of the train to the main terminal, I kept forgetting where to go. Yet knowing there was a happy ending some time ahead, I relaxed than I would have in the past, which was helpful when I got our more times. I was also delighted to meet a United Nations of immigrants working at the airport who warmly accompanied me from one wrong place to another (although they meant well).

The thing is, that even if we take the wrong path, get off at the wrong stop, shlep our luggage to the wrong exit, or ride the wrong escalator, we almost always get where we need to be. Obviously, this isn’t just about travel.

If I regret anything besides any time I hurt anyone (knowingly or unknowingly), it’s the wasted energy, overwrought anxiety, and stupid fretting I spent on the wrong things. Even worry about the right things — impending loss of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, a car accident — isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, as almost all of you dear readers know, when the shit hits the fan and the bottom drops out, what we feel, think, discover, and go through is often beyond our imagined response. As a connoisseur of anticipatory anxiety, I’ve found tensing up and freaking out ahead of time is highly overrated and bears no fruit.

But when it comes to the here and now, I want to continue acting as if I’m living this day a second time, relaxing with all the mishegas that comes while telling myself to calm the fuck down because in the end, it’s going to be okay. To quote another movie, this time The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end”

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