My appreciation of the Feldenkrais Method is always at a peak when I travel.
Of course there’s the reason you might expect: that I can keep my body comfortable while sitting in cramped airline seats, and in the aftermath of schlepping luggage and trekkiing from one end of an airport to the other. However, I think the most valuable skill I have learned is that of adaptation. Schedules, flight delays — in short, any time circumstances differ from the advance plan — are times when I marvel at what I have learned from the Method.
This past weekend, I had plans to fly to Erie, PA, for my son’s graduation from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. My partner and I traveled from Houston with my son’s Dad. At a stopover in Cleveland, we learned that our flight to Erie had been delayed for mechanical reasons. After about an hour and three announcements about the delay, we noticed some dramatic lightning strikes as we looked out the large, plate-glass windows at the gate. Smart phones, iPads, and wifi were consulted for weather maps, and sure enough, a powerful storm was making its way across Lake Erie, headed for Cleveland. The ground crew had to pull the jetway in because of the unsafe conditions caused by the lightning. It started to rain, we saw on the Weather Channel that we were under a tornado watch, and the hail began. We sat at the gate past our scheduled arrival time in Erie — and then, finally, the flight was canceled for real at about 10 p.m.
We all trudged down to Continental’s customer center to make other arrangements. Since the flight had been canceled because of the weather (wait — wasn’t it a mechanical problem an hour ago?), there was no comping of hotel rooms or anything else. We were offered the chance to come back to the airport at 6 a.m. to take a bus to Erie — nobody thought that was a good idea. All of the flights were full for Saturday, so we were offered the opportunity to fly there on Sunday. Since graduation was early Saturday afternoon, that was not an option. Accepting the challenge as an adventure, we began to talk about what our “Plan B” might be.
As we waited in line, we struck up a conversation with a fellow who had just flown in from LA. He really wanted to get to Erie that night. He had heard us talking about a real option — renting a car and driving the 100 miles to Erie — and offered to split the cost of the car with us if we were going. Taylor was easygoing and affable, a marked contrast to many others in the line, whose behavior caused security to show up as a precaution. We attracted another stranded traveler, Lucy, who also wanted to get to Erie before Saturday. As the plan came together, we rented a car, piled our luggage in, and we five, thrust into an adventure, set off after the storm had passed, Erie bound.
The weather was sloppy, but the conversation and company were great. Taylor turned out to be the actor and film producer Taylor Nichols, headed to Erie to be on a panel at the Spirit Quest Film Festival in Erie to promote his new film, Case 219. Lucy is a nurse from San Jose, CA who works for Kaiser Permanente. She was born and raised in Erie and was coming home to visit her family. We learned she had lived in Houston for several years during the 1980’s. The time passed happily, all were delivered, and we finally got checked in to our hotel at 2:30 a.m. Mission accomplished.
Act II, Erie and Edinboro, PA. When we awoke on Saturday morning, the temperatures were in the high 40’s — wind chill was 19 degrees. Quickly I realized that if I were to wear the little spring frock I brought with me, I should freeze to death. I quickly regrouped, opting for more casual attire and many layers to create warmth as I could. It was blustery, cold, and rainy, but the mood in the arena was ebullient. There’s nothing like a bunch of people gathered together to celebrate the accomplishments of others to give a real lift to the spirits. Being surrounded by that much happiness, love, relief, and pride was very moving. Edinboro University’s team is the Fighting Scots — something we always teased my son about — and yet, when the bagpipes came in, leading the academic procession with the mace and the faculty — tears came to my eyes.
I’ve written this post from two airport lounges — Erie PA and Cleveland– and Monday morning, for the final edit, sitting at the back of the room as the second week of the Houston Feldenkrais Training begins.. I am sure my reflections will continue throughout the coming weeks. Travel requires adaptation to the situation. Raising children requires adaptation. Any kind of relationship requires continuous adaptation to maintain equilibrium, growth, and happiness. The process of teaching, learning, and living is ongoing and dynamic.