Volcanic ash is a chance to practice Zen


COPING with this kind of frustration does depend on the personal situation. But broadly, be very careful not to get caught up in the hype and general mood. Yes, it is very stressful. But sit down and get a pen and paper and get things in perspective – this is a unique chance to let go. In most cases, you won’t have too much choice.

The other thing is not to take this personally. There’s a sense of “we’ve been stranded – nobody’s here to collect us.” But do not slip into feeling that you’re being persecuted. Remember everyone’s in the same boat. And think of it like this: a personal challenge, a chance to take what happens as best you can. Take it as an opportunity to let go – this is extremely hard for modern human beings. But it doesn’t have to be a catastrophe.

Be wary of negative people. When you get a lot of people together, a bad vibe can spread quickly, so try to be with the copers, the ones that aren’t moaning. And if you know you’re not good in these situations, find someone who is.

Don’t enter into the “what ifs” and the “maybes”, the “we were going to go another week” line of thinking – it’s not going to help you in the current situation. It’s a natural reaction, but pointless. And it’ll be sure to ruin your chances of making the best of your situation.

It’s normal to react emotionally when you’re missing an important event – a longed-for holiday, a wedding, even a funeral – but you really do need to be as pragmatic as possible. A lot of people panic and say “I can’t do anything in this situation”. But really ask yourself: what can I do? What are my options here? Rack your brain. Who do you know? Who can you call?

If you were due to be flying out for business, just rearrange, even if the meeting has been booked for two months. Do a conference call instead. Take control where you can.

Finally, this is about something bigger than you. It’s not about you not planning properly. This realisation is actually empowering – so let go, while also taking steps to rearrange what you need to do. Remember: this is an opportunity for personal challenge.