Yesterday, I found myself arriving ‘into’ (as they like to say these days) London Gatwick on a flight from Gibraltar. Everything had gone smoothly up to that point and I was looking forward to a quick exit from the terminal and a speedy journey home. No such luck!
The terminal was packed with people who had arrived on a number of flights all at the same time and there were not nearly enough people on the desks at passport control. It took an hour of queuing and frustration. All around me there were people who were venting their anger on each other and on members of staff. I was on my own and had no one to share the experience with but I was increasingly seething inside. Frustration 1 : Mindfulness 0!
There were moments when the queue simply seemed to stop and I started to think I was never going to get home. I have heard it said that underneath anger is always hurt or fear, and somewhere I was keeping a lid on a primitive anxiety that I would be stuck here forever, stuck in a kind of hell, an endless queuing and waiting and never getting out. Eventually, of course, I made it to the train station, crowded onto a train and tried to compose myself. The train was slow and stood for endless minutes just outside London Bridge Station.
Again I had the thought that I was never going to get home; and then the thought, ‘What if I were to die now?’ That was the turning point. I finally came home to myself. What if I were never to get home, if I were to die on this journey, if I were to die before I wake?