Do you like being interrupted? Or are you like the rest of us mere mortals who feel frustration when someone interrupts us, or our course throughout the day is somewhat delayed or put in a detour?

Do I see a few hands raised out there?

Yep, mine’s in there with the rest of y’all!

Here’s a little story where my interruptions in the form of flight delays lead to unexpected encounters.

So a few weeks ago I went on a business trip. On my way back the weather at the great black hole of ORD, Chicago International Airport caused an overnight delay of my flight.

Now, I had plans that next day, and it felt like life was handing me some lemons 🍋 with this holdup, but I can’t wait to share with you how I didn’t just make lemonade with those zesty fruits- I PAINTED WITH THE LITTLE CITRUS FRUITS.

Take that lemons.

So, the flight was supposed to go Indianapolis to Chicago to Manhattan, KS, and be home in enough time to have an evening cocktail with friends.

Well, the last part happened, but not the first.

The first delay

We landed in Chicago, but because of thunderstorms, we weren’t able to get to our gate, so we taxied around for maybe an hour. Nothing like an touring O’Hara round and round in an airplane!

Using our phones to track our connecting flights, several of us realized we would be automatically missing our connecting flights. There was nothing we could do except wait to get off the plane and then book it to the nearest desk to ask for assistance.

So, while listening and chatting with all the passengers around me, I sketched and painted my window view and the passengers around me.

After an hour, taxing around the airport, our plane seeming to say “Hey guys, any room? Can we come in?” we parked. This began a long run to a new possible connecting flight. However that kept getting delayed. (At this point, I was so grateful that the mask mandate in the airports and planes were over because we were so hot and out of breath from all of our hustling back and forth!)

Eventually our Manhattan flight was rescheduled for late Saturday morning. That meant I’d miss my brother’s engagement party, which I had gone to some lengths to make sure I would be there for it.

Painting Xavier (Photo courtesy: Jean Baptiste Wendling)

A fellow traveler and I, after a lot of hustling and waiting, were set up with meal and hotel vouchers, and off to the hotel we went, tired and hungry.

After settling in, I went down to the bar to have a good drink and a meal. I also decided to catch up on my painting there. I was tempted to just take the easy way out by putting on my PJ’s and watch a movie, but I really wanted a good drink and just to treat myself to the experience.

So down to the rather nice bar I went.

I ended up talking to the man next to me. He was from the Ukraine. He shared his story and how much corruption and little opportunity for the simple people there are in his land and in many of the Eastern European countries. He highlighted how good Americans have things with all the opportunity -if they are willing to work for it. By the end of the conversation, it was clear that he was an extremely strong person, with a gentle heart, very loyal to his country, and gnawing at the bit to go and fight and kill for the Ukraine.

The chat was brief, but very intense and left one with a sense of gravity. In the end, he paid for my dinner and tab and wished me the best. Boy, did that make me feel good!

Oh, hi! (Photo courtesy: Jean Baptiste Wendling)

Happy with that encounter, and even more knowing that I could now save my meal voucher for Saturday and get another drink, I went back to painting.

A few minutes later, I heard French. Two guys had come up to the bar to order whiskies. I surveyed them briefly to see what sort of people they seemed like, and with the coast declared clear internally, I tried speaking in French with them. (Comical.)

Adding the logo (Photo courtesy: Jean Baptiste Wendling)

Thus begain the conversation, limping between English and French with the two French guys and an American girl.

Audaciously, I asked if I could paint them into my travel notebook. The reply was an enthusiastic yes—if they could take a picture of it afterwards and buy me a drink.

Uh, of course!

Xavier, Yours Truly, and Jean Baptiste

So, I painted away, trying to stick to a 15 min time limit -it turned into probably double that.

And here is the finished product.

The drinks led to leisurely company and good conversation, a content cigarette outside, fond memories, connecting over the ‘gram, and an invitation to go see Mont Blanc if I’m ever in the area.

See where painting while delayed gets you?

The next day, everything went smoothly up to taxi-ing on the run way.

Again we had to sit in the plane for a good while…so…outcame the sketchbook and by take off, I was painting the highlights outside the window.

You can see a video of the process here.

We touched down on terra firma in Manhattan, late but well.

My mind was excited from all the enjoyment I had had: meeting new people and filling my sketchbook with some new favorites.

And I was hungry. I just wanted to eat and to download my over stimulated mind on paper.

And so I did, and not only did I download my thoughts onto paper, but also captured the scene as well.

You can watch a little video about it here.

The delays over the last 24 hours brought an opportunity to see and meet people, and to zero in on neat highlights that I would have never stopped to look at it everything had gone as planned.

The delays were harnessed and transformed by the thought: “Okay, God does this all for a reason. What little things does he want me to show me right now?”

There is much to see and take in, but it takes a mind willing to slow down and appreciate what is right before self. (And painting sure helps me slow down enought to see and examine!)

Finally, how one handles the interruptions and delays says a lot about the person. What you stick to in those small times of discplacement show who you are.

And that’s all for this week! Thanks so much for reading! Has this helped you consider an interruption from a different frame of mind?

Next week should be back to the Camino highlights!

Speaking of Interruptions, this was the book I was reading at the time of all of this: (Note: when you click the photo-links, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.)

An Interrupted Life: the Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43 tells the story of a young Dutch Jewess who is confined to a prison camp and then later transferred to Auschitz, where she was killed. But within these writings, throughout her story and struggles as a very free spirit, Etty discovers the riches of a deep interior freedom that no one could take from her.

By the way, if you’re interested in jotting down your thoughts or trying to whip out a few sketches yourself, these books are a great inconspicuous tool to carry ’round!

2 thoughts on “Interruptions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s