Here & there: Perfect travel record broken; my perfect smallness

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — A funny thing happened to me on the way to the airport this week … at 4:20 a.m.

One might argue it’s funny to be going anywhere at that ungodly hour especially the week we “spring forward.” 1) Who can go to sleep at a reasonable hour when the clock is lying to you? And 2) who can wake up at a reasonable hour when the clock is lying to you?

But back to the airport run. The funny thing about this particular one is that it was completely unnecessary. Why? Because I had the wrong day. I was up in the middle of the night, bleary eyed and hauling my sleepy 13-year-old son to the airport … on the wrong day.

And you know what’s even funnier? We had to do it all again the next day. (I’ll pause now for the horror to set in fully.)

And the jerk responsible for this? Me. All me.

In my defense, my son has had a rigorous travel schedule lately. He is a competitive gymnast and a member of the Junior National Team. Between meets and required national team trainings, he has logged over 6,000 miles this year already.

All the trips are starting to blend together for me. Clearly.

Not counting this sleep-depriving fiasco, I have a darn good track record for our family travel. No missed flights. No homeless nights abroad. No missed tours. No lost passports.

Although, in the spirit of disclosure, we got close to missing our Harry Potter tour in London last year. I blame my husband’s navigation of roundabouts. Side note: “Go thusly” doesn’t really count as directions, right?

And if I’m being completely candid, we have had a near passport loss or two. But never an actual loss. So it still counts.

My son didn’t want to hear about my stellar record. He didn’t want to hear about all the flights I hadn’t missed (or been a day early for) over the years. Not one little bit.

He was tired and mad and needed some sleep before he could get some perspective.

So did I. But sleep eluded me that night. It could have been the daylight saving time. It also could have been the new blemish on my record. I take pride in being dependable, and that night I wasn’t. I take pride in being able to do it all, and that night I didn’t.

Lately, though, I’ve been trying to be less about doing it all and more about doing less with more purpose. I clearly wasn’t doing that either. Unless taking your son errantly to the airport in the middle of the night counts. And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.

I’ve been trying to live more in line with the philosophy of author Shauna Neiquist: Present Over Perfect. Because what does my near perfect travel record – or any perfect record – prove anyway? And to whom?

In her book of the same title Neiquist explores that very question and finds that she isn’t proving anything to anyone by doing it all, by being perfect, because she’s the only one really keeping score. So, after years of being exhausted and overscheduled and overworked, she opts for something different.

Of the new life she’s created for herself, she says:

I am reveling in the smallness of my capacity. This is it. This is who I am. This is all I have to give you. It’s not a fire house, unending gallons of water, knocking you over with force. It’s a stream: tiny, clear, cool.

I’m not willing to stop doing things I love, like traveling with my family, writing or volunteering in my son’s first grade class just to be less busy. I don’t think that is what Neiquist is proposing.

But I am willing to look at my life and cut a few things that have crept in over time that don’t bring me joy anymore.  I am willing to admit that I don’t have limitless capacity. I am willing to revel a little more in the smallness. Especially if it means never repeating a pointless trip to the airport at four o’clock in the morning.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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