As we’re being escorted out of the line and taken over to the Oficina de Immigracian de Panama, I can feel the rage inside me brewing. I take a few deep breathes and wink at my son, hoping he doesn’t sense my panic commencing. I know this is more for my benefit than his, he is well attuned to the energy and likely already knows something is not right.

Despite my paperwork and pleading with officials, two hours later we find ourselves outside the airport with our bags, waiting to return to the hotel we just checked out of four hours earlier. We have been denied our exit from Panama and our return to Canada is officially on hold until the Canadian Embassy reopens.

As we wait for a taxi my son looks up at me, with pain in his eyes, and says, “I’m sorry Mommy. I think I wished too good for my wish.” Confused, I bend down to look in his eyes.

“What do you mean Sweet P?”

He glances sideways and then sheepishly looks back at me. “I wished for another night together at the hotel in Panama City and now I got my wish but I know how much you wanted to go back home. And we have been in Panama for a long time.”

My heart drops and as my eyes start to well up and all I can see in front of me is a blurred vision of my son, looking bewildered. And then it hits me that while we were detained by immigration and I was busy pleading with authorities, my son had been witness to his mother acting like a lunatic. You see, once I realized it was Friday, December 30th and that it would likely be very difficult to reach anyone prior to the New Year, I became desperate. A lapse in judgment and rash decision had me even instructing my son to start crying, in hopes that officials would empathize and let us through. Well, we know how that worked out.

My rigidness and anger had not changed the outcome and I started to become slightly more aware of how tense I was feeling. Now, looking at my son outside the airport, I begin to be aware of the pain I had caused him. I was so caught up in my future plans and the unjustness of it all, that I was missing the gift right in front of me.

So what about my New Years’ plans? 

So what about having to explain the delay to my boss back in Canada? 

So what if I’d already been off work for a month and needed to get back. 

So what is this was NOT the plan.

What IF this was an opportunity?

Here’s the thing. Sometimes life has other plans for us and sometimes those plans, although seemingly inconvenient or unpleasant, can be so much greater than we ever expected. That week in Panama City taught me I need to slow down and be more present. My son and I have traveled to many countries together, but that week was one of the most memorable and fun weeks we’ve ever had. Yes, there were frustrations, but being present seemed to wash away much of the anxiety I was feeling away about things I had no control over.

There is a great line from a poem written by Rumi that resonates with me.

“When I run after what I think I want, my days are full of distress and anxiety. If I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me, without pain. What I want also wants me. It is looking for me and will flow through me if I can allow it the space to do so.”

In today’s world, it can be easy to miss beautiful moments. We are often busy anticipating a future occurrence or ruminating over something from the past. We’re busy thinking of things we have to do or things we didn’t do. We are worried, stressed and struggle to be fully present and aware. Our minds are so busy that we miss what’s happening right in front of us. In fact, busy had become a way of life. But busy is not our being.

The truth is we only have this present moment and by thinking of the past or future we take away from this moment. This year I have focused on being more aware and more conscious in my daily living. What I’ve learned is that by being more present the seemingly little, insignificant moments are actually some of the most memorable moments in life.