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Here’s a Fun, New Way to Get Enlightened

If you want to have a good time – and I mean a really good time – go to an airport security line. These people know how to party. 

photo: eyeliam at flikr

I mean, they’re patting down complete strangers. And they have a legal right to do so! They’re wearing snappy uniforms and ordering people around. They’re rifling through everyone’s luggage – willy nilly, pawing through lingerie and athletic socks.

photo: z egloff

Does it get any better than that? I don’t think it does.

Actually, the process of standing in line, waiting to interact with the airport-security party-people is even more fun.

photo: Josh Hallett on flikr

And by “fun,” I mean excruciatingly frustrating. Bordering on torturous.

If you think about it, though, why are we in such a hurry? Other than getting on our plane, of course. But once we get to the front of the line, it gets pretty crazy, you have to admit.

You’ve been standing there, comatose, anywhere from one to a thousand minutes, and suddenly you’re on a game show. The object of the game, which you have no choice but to play, is to – as quickly as possible – strip off all your clothes and valuables and throw them into a plastic bin.

And your shoes – don’t forget your shoes!

photo: Ines Yeh on flikr

Whenever I’m in one of these lines, peeling off my shoes, I tend to notice how ratty they are. You need to buy some new footwear, I tell myself. But I never remember. Perhaps it’s the stress of being in the airport security line. It’s too hard to keep anything in my brain. Anything other than: Did you remember to pull your liquids out of your suitcase and throw them into the bin? You did? Well, check again. In case you didn’t really do it, but just hallucinated that you did!

photo: Jack Kennard on flikr

Last weekend, I was in an airport security line. I was having all the fun described above. I’d pried my shoes off my feet and made a note to buy new ones. I’d thrown my liquids into the bin and double checked to make sure I actually did it. I was waiting for a potential pat-down from a TSA professional.

photo: gchutka

My pat-down, however, was not forthcoming. That’s because we were in the slowest line ever in the history of airport security lines. That’s right. All the other lines – which we could have gone to, but noooooooooo, we had to stand in this one – were moving with the speed of a cheetah.

photo: flikrfavorites on flikr

Not ours.

I’m pretty sure the guy at the machine had a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Now, I’m not making fun of people with OCD, because I have it too. Why do you think I had to keep checking if my liquids were really in the plastic bin?

But this guy. I’m just saying. He was a hard-core, super-serious, triple-checking fool. He was not going to let any bag through that machine without memorizing its contents and writing a haiku about it.

photo: xb3 on flikr

Or maybe he was on a mission from God to test our patience. That’s what it was. And here’s the thing.

It worked.

As I was standing there, anxiously anticipating my intimate encounter with a TSA official, I woke up. You know how that happens? Suddenly, you remember who you are. You remember to slow down and breathe.

That’s what I did. I took a breath and sunk into my heart. Ever since I took a class on Heart Math a few years ago, I’ve been making it a practice to settle into my heart. To live from that place. The Heart Math folks point out that a heart-focused meditation practice decreases stress and increases well-being. I’ve found this to be true, both in meditation and throughout my day-to-day life.

So that’s what I did, right there in the middle of the tortoise-slow security line.

photo: frefran on flikr

All of a sudden, I was glad the line was so slow. If Mr. OCD hadn’t been taking his time at the x-ray machine, I never would have taken a breath. I wouldn’t have remembered to focus on my heart.

It was an amazing feeling, to be standing in the middle of chaos and anxiety and to be absolutely untouched by it. Not only that, I realized that we’re all ultimately untouched by it. Tapping into my heart was tapping into the truth.

My heart is a slow, expansive place. It is quiet and huge and absolute. In that moment, it was the hum underneath everything – the shoes in the bin and the crying baby at the end of the line and the shiny badge of the TSA official. Even the squinty eyes of Mr. OCD.

It was a luscious, luxurious moment. 

Then the line started moving again and I forgot. I slipped out of my heart and into my head.

But it didn’t matter. Because I didn’t forget what had happened. I didn’t forget what was real.

So if you want to have a good time – and I mean, a really good time – go to an airport security line. I’m serious. You can thank me later.

photo: Amy Gahran on flikr

What makes you remember to take a breath? How do you pause and sink into the truth?

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21 Responses to Here’s a Fun, New Way to Get Enlightened

  1. Laura November 1, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    Dear Z,
    Just came from there! And yes I was aware of this. And I woke up… a number of times but I kept dozing off too. Falling into bad dreams about ” “.
    Right on the edge…
    So thanks for the wake up call. Love, Laura

    • Z Egloff November 1, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Laura, Dozing off seems to be part of the process. And then waking up again. Glad we’re all in it together! XOZ

  2. Squirrel November 1, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    that abrupt stop before i slam into the brick wall (AKA taking a breath before i fly off the handle) usually comes when i’m waiting for others to get back to me about a project that are delayed for whatever reason and i surrender to the Universe; i realize that i am completely powerless over other people, places and things and release the illusion of control. didn’t i recently hear a talk containing some of those elements? it sounds familiar…


    • Z Egloff November 1, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      It is interesting how those things that are the Most Frustrating Things Ever (MFTE) are also the very same things that help us get sane. Fascinating. And frustrating. And fascinating. XOZ

  3. Christopher November 1, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    “I think we can enjoy the red light; we can also enjoy the stop sign. Every time we see it we profit: instead of being angry at the red light, of being burned by impatience, we just practice breathing in, breathing out, smiling.”

    ~Thich Nhat Hahn

    • Z Egloff November 1, 2011 at 10:09 am #

      Beautiful! Thank you, Christopher.

  4. Cecilia November 1, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    I so often forget to settle into the now, but it most often happens when I’m late somewhere. 95% of the time, mid-panic, I remember that nothing is going to change what is happening – least of all my stress or worry, and I breathe, and I allow myself to sit on my goddamn subway train in peace!

    • Z Egloff November 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      Nice! I have it happen when I’m rushing to get somewhere in my car. I touch into that calm little place in me that knows that Everything Is Just Fine. You’re a fancy urbanite, so you’re revelations get to come on the subway! 😉

  5. Kathy November 1, 2011 at 11:24 am #


    • Z Egloff November 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

      You’re welcome!! :)

  6. Laura November 1, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    Great post!

    It was recommended to me, for health reasons, that I request a pat-down, rather than go through the x-ray scanner. Not sure if it’s necessary, but I’ve been doing just that. I have to say…it is more fun! The people are very friendly and we end up making lots of jokes…I told one guy I expected dinner first, and he asked if I’d settle for a dance :)

    It is great to take a deep breath and realize that it’s not all that bad. And, we’re all in it together.


    • Z Egloff November 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      I like it! A pat-down, eh? Maybe that’s the way to go. . . . XOZ

  7. Lili November 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    HAHAHA!!! “…memorizing its contents and writing a haiku about it” HEEHEEHEEE!!!!!

  8. Z Egloff November 4, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    It’s true!! I saw him doing it!!!!! :)

  9. C.I. November 6, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    yeah, TSA-Pro, a little higher…..lower, faster… slower!

    OOPS, I digress, back to my heart and breathing– :-)

    • Z Egloff November 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      Wow, sounds like you have a lot more fun in airport security lines than I do!

  10. Jiselle November 22, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    I’ll be doing just that in a couple weeks when I go home for winter holiday. My new goal will be to try that while in line at the security checkpoint. I have a feeling I’m going to have a good journey home.

    • Z Egloff November 22, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      Hi Jiselle! I also have a feeling you’re going to have a great trip home. The coolest thing for me about it was feeling so peaceful in the middle of so much ruckus. It was sweet and empowering, all at the same time. Happy travels! XOZ

  11. Karen M. Naumann November 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Z! You are such a Light Bulb! Thank you & Keep Shinning! You crack me up! I love it! Your joy is contagious! (did i spell that right?), big word. “Keep on Truckin Babe” I’m off to Wed. night chanting now. I’ll keep on chanting too! hare om hare hare hare! hoorey! all good! ? love karen :)

    • Z Egloff November 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

      Hi Karen,

      Nice to see you in the world of the goofballs! I’m glad that you enjoyed the post(s). I’m having a blast doing the blog – way more fun than I thought it would be.

      Hope you had a groovy time at the chant thingie!



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