Wandering along a blistering summer road on the Greek island of Ithaca in 2018, I spotted a rough wooden sign in English that read;
There is nothing permanent except change-Heraclitus.
How true, I thought. And then promptly filed it under ‘interesting pithy quotes from ancient Greek philosophers.’ But when life began to throw out curve balls this year in the shape of a devastating global pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, Heraclitus’s wise observation came back to me. However, in our 2020 cabin crew world, acknowledging this truth doesn’t make the seismic changes we’re all experiencing any easier to deal with. Or does it?
Transformative change is the one thing we can rely on. The one constant. We see it cyclically reflected in nature; in the seasons, in birth and death, in the tides, the phases of the moon, and of course, in our own bodies. So why is it so hard to mentally embrace change?
Many of us are seeing our livelihoods threatened. Stress and uncertainty rush to greet us each morning when we wake up. Even our physical health concerns surrounding Covid-19 are overtaken by profound mental anxiety for our job security. Maybe we’re drinking too much wine or neglecting our well-being as an unknown new reality emerges. Our flying careers as we know them have either ended in redundancy or changed beyond recognition. Many of us are facing, or have taken, life-changing decisions. Perhaps we’re asking ourselves is it time to change and move in another direction? Hang up our wings for good? Sadly, some don’t even have a choice. Our companies have let us go, or perhaps offered us an untenable new contract. And this is where I’m at. I’ll be honest, I’m scared. I’ve been flying a long time. Being crew has defined where I live and how I live, and to a large extent, who I am. Always on the move. Discovering new places, new adventures, embracing diverse cultures, meeting wonderful colleagues and customers (and some not so wonderful). And coming to the realisation that we are all passengers on this journey of life, sharing similar hopes, joys and fears.
I keep a postcard on my fridge, emblazoned with Tolkien’s words ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost’ (love those pithy quotes, obvs). And like you, I’ve wandered far from home. Found joy and meaning in exploration. Far-flung islands and tropical forests and iconic cities. Travel is our lifeblood. The thrill of seeing the looming Manhattan skyline as you cross the Queensboro bridge on the crew bus; Sunday evenings in San Telmo watching the Tango dancers in the Plaza Dorrego; cocktails and laughter at Sydney’s Opera Bar. Even the small repetitive routines like stocking up on toiletries in Target, or drifting aimlessly in a jetlagged haze around a shopping mall buying unwanted stuff you’ll inevitably return the next day, bring fond memories.
So what has the moon got to do with any of this? Sleepless nights on furlough have often made me feel wired to it. You too? But just think how the moon is constantly moving. To our eyes, constantly changing, as light and darkness shift across its surface. The powerful push and pull of magnetic lunar rhythms creating tidal movement. There is reassurance and solace to be found in transformative reflections in nature and in the sky. Change is frightening and inconvenient, but also natural and often thrilling. It is something you and I have always done, without even realising. We are never alone in it. These challenging times represent yet another life transition for us to face. Another cycle that we’ll navigate with the resilience and dignity and wisdom innate in all of us. And you don’t even have to be an old Greek Philosopher to know that.
Bon courage mes amis!