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Facing the unknown

[Listen to me read this reflection here]

Yesterday I nearly missed a long international flight.

I had arrived at the airport with plenty of time ahead of my flight. Feeling relaxed, I enjoyed some breakfast, sent a few voice notes to friends and even had time to read.

Once I felt that it was time for me to head towards the gate, I was surprised to find out that I had to go through passport control. This particular morning, there were a few hundred people waiting in the foreign passport control line. The immediate thought that rushed to my mind was that there was no way that I would make this flight.

I took a deep breath, stayed calm and then began to look around. I noticed another passport area for EU citizens with automated machines and no line up. I recognized the symbol for electronic passports, which I had a faint memory of working many years ago for me somewhere in Asia. So I thought, maybe it’s worth a try.

I walked over to one of the machines, pulled out my passport and inserted it into the slot. A few moments later, a red X showed up on the screen. It did not work.

I paused, looked around and saw another set of machines to my right. I walked over and decided to try it again. This machine was a little slower. I patiently waited for it to process and to my delight, a green check mark appeared on the screen and the gate opened. It worked.

As I walked through the gate, I glanced back at the international passport control line that had barely moved, and felt a rush of gratitude that I did not have to wait in that line anymore. I continued walking to the gate, confident now that I would make the flight, and started to reflect on what just happened.


While my first reaction to the situation was fear, and to assume that I would of course miss my flight, a sense of belief helped me navigate this unknown situation.

For me to take the time to look around and spot the automated passport control machines, I first had to believe that there was still a possibility that I could make the flight.

For me to walk over and try the automated machine, even though the signs clearly indicated they were for EU citizens (which I am not), I had to believe that it might work.

For me to try a second machine, even after the first one did not work, I had to again believe that it still might work.

A different response would have been for me to cave into my fear. To react to my insecurities and doubts, and to believe that I was doomed.

In every situation I am faced with, especially those with the unknown, I can choose to respond with fear or belief. It can be with business, health, relationships, travel, school or really anything.

To respond with fear will feel more safe. My mind is great at imagining possibilities that are scary, figuring out what the worst case scenario is, and then reacting to that. In reality though, the fears of my mind rarely come true, so why react to what is not true?

To respond with belief requires me to place my trust in something, or someone. It could simply be to trust myself to ‘figure it out’. It could be to trust those around me to support, help and love me, regardless of what happens or does not happen. It could also be to trust some force or energy bigger than me that I feel connected with.

Belief does require me to trust without having complete information. This is what makes belief difficult.

It is easier to trust someone or something, if I know what is going to happen, or how it is going to happen. Like the trust I place in the pilot of the airplane, or the trust I place in a bank keeping my money, or the trust I place that when I turn on a light switch, electricity will be available. In these situations, there is nothing to really believe in. I know with almost complete certainty what will happen.

The belief that I am reflecting on requires sometimes taking a leap of faith. It requires me to tap into a deeper knowing within myself, even though I might be swimming in fears triggered by this unknown or unwanted circumstance and situation.

My experience yesterday was a reminder to face the unknown with belief over fear. Where fear keeps me stuck, belief can help me go places.

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