Months ago, I forgave myself in advance for all the mistakes I was about to make. Perhaps needless to say, I have made quite a few. Maybe a twelve-stop book tour over the space of six weeks (with no real break in my consulting and coaching work) was a bit much to ask of myself. Or of anyone.
I had just finished stop nine of the twelve – Book Culture in New York City. The event had been full and fun, and I’d celebrated with a group of (Stuyvesant) high school friends into late (for me) in the night. The next morning, I asked my wonderful friend/host how long it took to get to LaGuardia Airport from her apartment. She confirmed my estimation (thirty minutes), and I headed out to Uber-share my way to LaGuardia, giving myself a bit of extra time for the hell of it.
I got to LaGuardia easily. I sauntered through the lineless security line and placed my phone down on the little machine that checks your boarding pass, feeling quite pleased with myself and with how the day was going so far. And then, as if from a distance, I heard the person sitting behind the desk ask, “Do you have a pass for LaGuardia?”
“What????” I responded.
“Do you have a pass for LaGuardia?” she repeated.
I pulled my phone back from the machine and stared at it. JFK. (For those of you who don’t know – the other airport in NYC.) “x*%s&!!!!” came bursting out of my mouth. “My flight’s at JFK? Can I make it????”
“Not at all.”
Now, I am a New Yorker. I KNOW there are two airports in NYC. (Three if you count Newark, but I wasn’t counting Newark. It’s in New Jersey.) I couldn’t believe I had somehow slowly made my way to the airport…and it was the wrong airport. And I couldn’t fathom her comment that I couldn’t make my flight (in the other airport). That wasn’t acceptable. I was in the midst of my book tour and heading to North Carolina. I had to make my flight.
After one quick look at other options (and costs) to get to North Carolina later in the day (or early the next day), I grabbed my luggage and ran downstairs, through the airport, and to the taxi stand. I charged up to the dispatcher, panting. “I have a flight at 11:30 at JFK!!” (I can’t have been the first person to have made this mistake. He must have heard this at least once before.) “Can I make it?”
“I don’t know,” he answered, but he seized my bag, threw it into the trunk of the next waiting cab, shouted at the cab driver that I had a flight in just over an hour at JFK, and sent me on my way.
I slammed myself into the cab, gasping at the driver, “Do you think we can make it?”
“I don’t know,” he answered. “We’ll try…”
He tried. He made it. He drove like a bat out of hell (and, perhaps needless to say, I threw a huge tip at him. He had saved me hundreds of dollars – and hassle and disappointment – and I knew I was indebted to him.) We got to JFK so quickly that I actually had plenty of time to slowly make my way through that security line, grab something to eat, leave my #ibelieveinbookfairies deposit, and wait quietly for my flight. And catch my breath.
I still can’t believe I did that. But I did. And it’s a good thing I forgave myself in advance for everything I was about to do wrong and every mistake I was about to make. I clearly didn’t expect showing up at the wrong airport to be one of my missteps – again, especially in MY HOMETOWN – but it was. All I could do was laugh about it (and at myself), forgive myself as I had promised to do, and keep on going on.
All I can do when I mess up is keep on going on. All I can do with each mistake, each misstep, each oops, and each time I let myself (or someone else) down is forgive myself as best as I can and keep on going on.
And perhaps slow down a bit and schedule a few fewer book readings in row.
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