… a single step

The journey of a thousand miles begins with… (Lao Tzu)

There is something about airports that is so surreal.  You know what I’m talking about—how every airport looks and smells and feels the same, no matter where you are.  Time seems to pass differently; it doesn’t stand still exactly or even speed up or slow down.  It’s as if there are different rules to the time-space continuum in the airport, making time become thick and viscous, almost tangible.  Everyone is suddenly very aware of how we are all exactly the same.  No one escapes from the long lines, or going through check points, or the high prices.  The airport is the great leveler.  Many long or important trips in my life have started in the airport.

I woke up this morning at 5:30am.  I will have traveled for over 24 hours (19 hours of which will be actual time in a plane) and over 7,000 miles by the time this plane touches down at Ninoy Airport in Manila.  And yet, I know that if I were to simply stay in the airport, it may not feel like I even left home.  Airports are weird like that.

And yet I need airports.  I need them to bookend my adventures and give me a chance to reflect.  The airport is the perfect place to examine my thoughts.  I can almost see them in front of me suspended in airport-time, like little bits of fruit in Jell-o salad.  Why is it that I seem to need to travel such great distances, and brave airports all over the world to find answers?  Why do I feel the need to take huge leaps to move forward?  Why a place that I have never been and know nothing about?  The routine answers of being outside my comfort zone and facing challenge always apply, but there is something deeper at work this time.  There is something more meaningful about this trip that I want to explore.

I keep telling people that I feel like I’m jumping off a cliff.  I am looking ahead to my future and all I can see is a great, wide expanse.  Everything is so unknown and uncharted.  I am really, actually going to be a midwife with my own business, and this trip is going to catapult me toward that goal in a way that I never thought possible.  And I have no idea what’s going to happen—both during the trip and when I come back.

I guess these are good things.  I am taking a leap of faith—the same kind of leap that is needed to labor and birth.  A turning off of the thinking, analyzing mind and turning on of a deep intuition that we rarely see in today’s reason-obsessed world.  The midwife mind.  In all great change and challenge, there comes a point at which I just have to make the jump and know that it will all turn out well in the end.  Even the scientific discovery that is held so dear requires intuitive leaps and an awful lot of faith in the scientific method to keep going.  I leapt faithfully, and I’m ending up in the Philippines.  I am turning on my midwife mind.

My preceptor says that I will come back from this trip a midwife.  She says there is moment in each midwife’s journey when that mantle is finally shouldered and worn proudly.  Will I feel that shift?  I don’t know.  I do know that I will come back a changed woman.  And truly, that is what I hope for when I set foot in any airport—to ultimately change my destination and come back a little more whole.

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