Finding Infinity at P.F. Chang’s

bar_talkI’m in the Atlanta airport, catching a quick bite at P.F. Chang’s between flights. As an aside, Chang’s has pretty good gluten-free junk food.

Chang’s is dimly lit, especially coming in from the terminal’s fluorescent glow. The bar area is hopping. It feels like I’ve stepped into some weird quantum infinity and that I might see Hans Solo and Chewbacca sharing lettuce wraps in the far corner.

But weirder than that: everyone seems to know each other.

People are drinking and chatting like it’s the neighborhood pub. I start to wonder if maybe they do know each other, if I have walked into the clubhouse of an American subculture: the business traveler.

Or perhaps traveling, being between flights and in-limbo, erases the hard edges of our identity and we are able to merge into something else, to be someone else in this interstitial space.

In the anonymity of this airport bar, it would easy to do a James Bond and step into the bathroom, change my hair-do, my shirt, and my attitude, then walk into the rest of my life subtly altered, not quite who I was when I ducked into the bathroom stall.

The author E.M. Forster, talks about railroad stations as portals to infinity. Here in the Hartsfield International Airport, I am hearing that line as a call to find our own infinity, our own complexity, and the myriad of story-lines we can choose to inhabit as we step forward in our lives.

The Hartsfield International P.F. Chang’s has become for me a nexus from which many roads lead out and I am sitting at the crossroads of an infinity of options.

In folklore, in-between places, liminal spaces, and times of day (like sunrise and sunset) are the where and the when that lead to a different existence.

Sometimes I think we forget that there is a sunrise and a sunset each day, that there are a myriad of doorways within our house, that there are edges of land and sea or forest and meadow, and that these are all available to us. All of these in-betweens ask us who we want to be as we step through to the other side.

We wake up in the morning and have the opportunity to step onto a path just adjacent to the one we trod upon yesterday and when we choose this, a whole new reality (and a new normal) can bloom in front of us.

It would be easy to end this post here. To wrap this up neat and tidy and send you off to find your best you.

But for most of you, this is where reality kicks in. This is where you say “But I have kids and a job and responsibilities. I don’t get to simply step into another reality.”

By using your kids or your husband or your job as your “yeah, but” you are, in essence, saying that you would not choose these things if you felt that you actually had a choice.

For many of you, that simply isn’t true. You may want a day to yourself (or a month on BoraBora surrounded by people who don’t know your name or have access to your cell phone number) but you probably don’t want the rest of your life to yourself.

So when you wake up in the morning, in the liminal space between sleep and waking, in a rare moment free of responsibilities, ask yourself this:

Which responsibilities do you choose to pick-up again? Who will you love today? What will be important to you in the day that is to come? What are you willing to flight for?

Do you choose to be a mom (again, today, not merely in the moment of seeing a little blue line on a pregnancy test), do you choose to be a wife (today, not back when you said “I do.”)?

If these are your choices, own them.

Instead of telling the story of being stuck and tied down, tell the dawn that you choose this, that you picked up this responsibility today because it matters to your heart or your head or your spirit.

Airport pubs might remind us of the nature of infinity, but, like any crossroads, they are a place to move through, not a place to hang out.

As I slip into the rest room, to put on some lip gloss, I smile at myself. I consciously choose to be happy about my weird lay over and then choose to get on my next flight home to Asheville.

Every choice we make eliminates some other choice, but it is the choosing, not the infinity, that makes a life.

Ready to live out loud? Use the comments section below to tell me what you choose today.



  1. says

    “Instead of telling the story of being stuck and tied down, tell the dawn that you choose this, that you picked up this responsibility today because it matters to your heart or your head or your spirit.”

    I read this on a day when I very much needed to be reminded of this.

    I’m in a place that’s not ideal, dealing with a situation that is frustrating and annoying and easy to hide from.

    But if I choose this, if I make my story one of Yes I’m Doing This To Reach An End Goal, I can keep doing it. I won’t feel the drag of miserable perpetuity!

    Thank you for these words Maia!

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