In mid-December we made two trips on Southwest Airlines flying non-rev, which means standby, which means maybe they have room for you on the airplane or maybe they don’t. Both trips went well; we made all our flights and got home when we needed to.
Why does it matter? Because I’m much more comfortable flying with a purchased ticket, even though it costs money. Flying non-rev costs, too; you pay for it with uncertainty. In general, I’m happier spending money than sacrificing certainty.
The first trip was to Nashville for a concert (Amy Grant and Vince Gill). We arrived with plenty of time to enjoy a late lunch of Nashville Hot Chicken at Hattie B’s.
And on the way home, even the full flights had seats for us. I was worried about getting home Wednesday night since I was teaching Iron Men at 6:30 am Thursday morning and Cyndi was teaching yoga at 5:45 am. We knew it would be impossible to recruit substitute teachers at such short notice. But we made it home just fine.
The second trip was to Dallas, leaving at 6:00 am from Midland, to see our oldest granddaughter, Madden in her first gymnastics meet of the season and her first meet after moving up to the next competitive level. The early flight was not crowded, and we arrived with enough time for a leisurely breakfast at La Madeleine’s in Grapevine. Afterwards, our 4:00 pm which had been full, opened, and we got “C” boarding passes. We were home and in our house by 6:00 pm.
I told Cyndi I can see a day in my future when I’ll be more relaxed in the standby world.
Is it possible to begin any new year without a huge cloud of uncertainty? Has anyone ever reached the last week of December and said, “That was a perfect year. Everything worked out how I wanted it to, and it all makes sense. I can’t wait for another year like the one I just had.”
No one says that. The end of each year feels like the worst year ever even though it’s been happening over and over since the beginning. Even back in the days we now refer to normal, as in pre-Covid, we weren’t as satisfied as we remember. It was rough, then, too. Life is always confusing and mysterious and unpredictable on the fly.
The thing is, I should be better at living with uncertainty as much as I write about it. I should have solved much of my discomfort by now. In fact, I’m not sure why I expect anything else from life.
But I do. I long for order and structure. I want systems that work and can be depended on. I create endless checklists and calendars and plans-of-action to organize my life, and I put them on spreadsheets (who doesn’t?), searching for that one special spreadsheet to rule them all.
I assume having a predictable life would be better than being confused all the time, but that comes from the logic portion of my brain. My intuitive part tells me I wouldn’t enjoy it. It’s because of chaos I turn toward God, turn toward Cyndi, turn toward family and friends. I’m not sure I would do that if my world were more structured.
For the past year I’ve gotten the same question from well-meaning friends almost every week: Are you officially retired these days? They ask because they care about me and because they’ve noticed my leisurely calendar. It doesn’t bother me except that I can’t decide how to answer.
I’m on the payroll as a Professional Engineer for a local environmental company, which would normally mean I’m still working, but they haven’t needed me since last summer. I would like to be working more (Cyndi says I’m not happy unless I’m solving problems), but sometimes I dream of this next phase of life. In the meantime, I want to know how to get ready, whether working or retired, so I can plan. I want to know what’s next.
I want to know my next move as soon as possible – whether I’m writing a book, or doing a big training ride on my bike, or picking the best lane on I-20 – I want to be ready before I must be. I don’t like making last minute decisions when I had plenty of time to avoid waiting until the last minute.
Well, Friday morning, Christmas Eve, I told my friend Bill about my Southwest Airlines non-rev adventures and how I’m getting more comfortable not knowing how things will turn out. He laughed at my discomfort and said, “You made it through last week, you’re ready for 2022.”
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32