The Inbetween


About five years ago, I had a wobble. Despite having flown many times since the age of sixteen - and living on a different island from my family, thereby necessitating air travel - I began to get very anxious about it all. I started to feel real anxiety when I boarded an aircraft and it remained throughout the flight. I really feared that I would be grounded for the rest of my life.

Then I got a job that meant a lot more air travel than normal. Thankfully I had been through major root canal treatment a few years before that took place over several weeks, and I had to learn to talk myself out of my anxiety through a bit of mindfulness. It worked again with air travel, for which I thank God.

Going to the airport is a rare treat for many and it usually means the start of a much-needed holiday. There is an air of anticipation, excitement and relief that, in a few short hours, sun, sand and sangria await. At this time of year, the airport is full of that excitement tinged with nervousness. The focus is very much on the destination and the time spent getting there merely a necessary evil.

For me it is often the other way round. Not that I don't want to arrive or meet the people at the other end, but that a long plane journey offers me a real chance to reflect and relax. It has all the elements - no wifi or phone reception, free food and drink, free films and a little desk to work from. I board an aircraft these days , fully equipped with all the little things I know will help - laptop, decent articles to read, paper and pen - and settle in quickly to begin this retreat in the sky. Even in economy class, there is a feelng of space, a gap opening up in between departure and arrival, that allows for rest, a catch up with (some) missed deadlines and reflection. Give me ten hours on a plane and I will give you five worked up proposals for research projects, a sermon and seminar and a few other good ideas!

As I contemplate moving on from my current role this summer, there is an ongoiing feeling of living in the inbetween for the next few months. I know that it can be unsettling for many, but I am increasingly grateful for the spaces my work and life create for me. And perhaps there is a wisdom here that I need to heed: to make sure that my diary in the future always gives enough space for journeys and the inbetween.

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