Friday, May 18, 2012

Plug 'Em In

They even come in a handy dandy little travel case. Ooo. 

Travel can be exhausting, can't it? Lugging around luggage, (Hey -- is that why they call it luggage? Hm.) finding one's way around airports and train stations and new cities, crossing time zones......yeah. It all saps energy.

I think that just dealing with everyone that you meet while traveling requires energy, too. Hello, Miss-Not-So-Perky ticketing agent. Hiya, Mister-Sullen-Couldn't-Give-A-Rip airport restaurant waiter. Nice to meet you, Madame Let-Me-Tell-You-My-Entire-Life-Story-All-The-Way-Across-The-Continent-While-Stuffed-Into-The-Airline-Seat-Next-To-You.

My goodness.

This go-around, I brought a secret weapon with me. I yoinked this idea from my kids who have told me their methods of avoiding unwanted contact with others while living in a big city: putting something in their ears.

In their case, they just take their iPod earbuds and jam them in their ears whenever they walk anywhere downtown. The girls tell me that this works amazingly well. Especially if they whistle or hum softly while they walk. Oh -- and they tell me that they have to adopt this glazed-eye kind of thing. An expression that just screams "leave me alone! listening to my tunes here!"

So I picked up a set of earplugs that are attached to a length of cord. I can sling the set around my neck and stuff those babies into my auditory canals whenever I want. The effect is pretty impressive in that not only does it deter others from interacting with me (take that Madame I'm-Talking-Loudly-Because-I'm-Nervous-On-Airplanes), but it also keeps me from initiating contact with others.

It's not that I want to be antisocial. It's just that when faced with an entire day's worth of travel, I have to meter out every teensy bit of energy so carefully. If I spend it all yakking for four hours while zooming across the continent, then I will have considerably less reserves when the plane touches down.

The plugs also provide a shield of sorts from really annoying sounds that zap energy simply by being there, like the screaming baby seated just two rows behind me. Oh, those poor parents.......have been there, done that. I know how hard it is for infants and children to travel, gosh. But it takes energy just for me to listen to their angst and discomfort, and those magic plugs muffle those noises down to an almost ignorable level.

When I put in those plugs, I've learned to adopt a relaxed, closed-eye pose. I uncross my legs. I put my hands in my lap. And then I try very hard to zone out from all of my surroundings. Sometimes I actually fall asleep, other times I just try to meditate. If I'm mindful of maintaining that state, I can actually feel myself restore bits and pieces of my energy, rather than dole them out.

Sounds like a pretty spiffy idea, right?

It is, for most of the time. But, of course, there's those times when earplugs are pretty useless. I'll betcha you can think of a million of those instances: when the person sitting two seats over next to the window decides that they want to visit the bathroom about every half hour or so requiring all three of us in the row to unbuckle and unsquish ourselves from those teensy cramped seats. And then resquish ourselves back in on their return.

Or when the lady directly in front of me first spritzes herself with strong perfume, then leans her seat back, sending a cloud of asthma-inducing vapors directly my way.

Or.....well, you get the idea.

But I think that the more little tricks I have tucked up my traveling sleeve, the better I tolerate galavanting all around.

And that's a very good thing.

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