Recently I had to travel for work and I was totally dreading it. It involved a long haul flight, long days and little down time. Ever since I have had kids, sleep has become such a precious commodity that I do everything I can to ensure I get as much as I can. Gone are the days of waking up all hours of the night, the kids rarely wake up these days, but my sense of scarcity, I simply haven’t been able to shake.
So all I could think about this trip, was how tired I was going to feel. How draining it would be. I whinged, complained and worried about it in the week leading up.
And, it really was atrocious. 31 hrs of straight travel in one stint, it literally included planes, trains and automobiles. I had barely any sleep and yet, had to function at work on a different time zone and from 7.30 in the morning until after dinner.
But you know what. I was ok. Actually, I was more than OK. I was good. I had spare seats next to me on the planes so I managed to stretch out my legs. I was traveling with colleagues and we laughed till we nearly cried, taking photos of ourselves looking terrible and bedraggled. We regaled stories to our colleagues about our epic journey.
On our final day, I had a few precious hours to myself in the morning and was fortunate enough to be in amazing hotel room with a huge snuggly comfortable bed. I couldn’t sleep but I so enjoyed just lying horizontal and appreciating that I had nowhere I needed to be, nothing I needed to do. I bought a huge Starbucks tea and had what was perhaps the greatest bubble bath I have had in my life.
So, actually, it wasn’t all bad at all and it was a great reminder for two important reasons..
- Really, if this is my biggest issue, I’m doing good. Perspective is everything.
- You need some suffering in life to also experience joy. Sure, sitting for hours straight on a plane may not exactly be suffering greatly, but that time of discomfort and strain, made me appreciate that bath and bed with so much more pleasure that would have been the case if I had simply gone straight to the hotel. Mark Mason writes about this concept in his book “The subtle art of not giving a F*&^” (which I happened to be reading on the plane), I know, provocative title but he has some really valid points to make about how we approach our lives and what we choose to care about.
It also made me realise that maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself to always achieve a perfect nights sleep and to avoid anything that might make me more tired. There seems to be lots of advice around, driving it home about how we should be eating, drinking, exercising and getting that all important good nights sleep. Which is totally true. But also, every now and again, it’s not the end of the world to miss a bit of sleep and go on a big adventure instead.
Is there something you are avoiding that might actually make you appreciate the small things?