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Posted on Jul 20, 2010 in favorites | 3 comments

Splitting the Atom

by Jill MacGregor

“Tell me what you want.”

How often does someone ask you this? I bet it’s not very frequently. More importantly, how often do you ask yourself?

“Tell me what you want.”

I was going to call this post “What I Learned Rebooking My Airline Ticket After Breaking My Wrist” but “Splitting the Atom” seemed more concise. When I broke my wrist, it forced me to miss an important flight home to visit family. I would love to tell you I broke it doing something heroic or physically challenging but it was simply a misstep. I tripped on the stairs and just ended up all wrong on my tiny little wrist.

I am of the school that all things happen for a reason, so here’s a little story of knowledge gained.

Take this also as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of purchasing a ticket on different carriers. You may already see were this is going. I bought my ticket through hotwire.com—the departure was through Delta and the return was through American. Herein lies the rub… because as I found out, it only takes 4 hours to rebook your ticket if you do it this way. grrr

Stay with me.

So, for 4 hours Delta told me to call America and tell them that they said this…and American told me to just call Delta and tell them that they had said the exact opposite. And this was up through the supervisory level.

I just wanted to get on the same flight the next day and go see my folks without paying an additional $1,000. It didn’t feel like a huge request. But it was.

It got to the point where I was just desperate to get on a plane. I was even settling for a horrible red eye that would allow me tours of the Salt Lake and Dallas airports, sitting in Dallas from 3am-6am, where I would undoubtedly weep like a tired 3 year old who’d missed their nap and cradle my wrist in pain—spending the 1st two days of my vacation in a tired haze.

Are you starting to feel it with me? I was frustrated, had completely lost sight of what I wanted to do because of the endless obstacles and was being further derailed by the pain in my wrist. The goal had gone from *reschedule the flight for the next day * to a desperate *get on a plane, any plane, even if you have to stop in 12 cities along the way–and try not to give up*.

I felt beaten. I thought this was going to be so simple and both sides where convincing me that this was an impossible request.

My final call happened to be with a supervisor who had also been a nurse…I’m quite sure she heard the pain and frustration in my voice in a way that others had not.

She asked me very matter of factly, “What do you want me to do? You have to tell me what you want.”

I hesitated. I was so fried. I’d spent hours telling people what I wanted and I started to feel like…I don’t’ know…like I didn’t deserve it or it was just too big of an ask.

I hesitated. “I just want to get home. But not on a red eye.”

“You have to tell me what you want exactly. I can’t get it for you unless you tell me what you want.”

Where do I start? Never to have tripped up the stairs and broken my wrist. To be sitting in Dallas and waiting for my connection with a cocktail in my hand. To have my 4 wasted hours back.

“You have to tell me what you want,” she repeated patiently.

Not what I need. Not what I deserve. What I WANT.

Perhaps the pain had made me a little wonky, because I suddenly felt like I was in a much bigger conversation and that the question was coming from a much larger source.

”I want to leave tomorrow on the same flight,” I said. And she made it happen. I felt strangely mad with power. I asked, I got.

Tell me what you want.

It’s easy to leave the specifics to chance…to see how randomness might fill in the blanks…implying that maybe you wouldn’t do such a great job at answering that all important question—Tell me what you want. Sometimes we feel a little beaten by circumstances, making us feel like we don’t deserve what we so dearly want. We get a little vague on our responses. The more we firm up exactly what we want—without shyness, without establishing unnecessary criteria like *do I deserve It?*, the clearer our paths become.

Think of yourself as an athlete who has trained your entire life to be where you are today. All of your hopes need to be firmly locked in the starting position with a clear vision of the race that is to be run before the gun ever sounds.

Everything you’ve done has prepared you for this moment—you are built to win. Part of your training is to see yourself winning—before the competition has even begun. See yourself being the strongest, hitting the milestones, feeling what that feels like to grab your prize.

You have to tell me what it is you want.

I would like an interesting job that pays well and lets me master new & exciting skills.

Tell me what you want.

I would like build an ever growing tribe through my writing.

Tell me what you want.

I would like to be surrounded by fascinating people who mentor me.

Tell me what you want.




Your turn.




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  • Leave me a comment–I’d love to know your thoughts!

    3 Comments

    1. Jill,
      Yes, it does help to make your wishes known…..people don’t usually read our minds, even tho we are thinking so very hard about things we are sure they are getting our thought waves!
      We are so grateful that you were home with us for a while (far too short!!) and didn’t give up on getting your ticket changed. Thank goodness, for the woman at Delta that kept saying, ” Tell me what you want”, and made things happen for you. Maybe after 4 hours on the phone with Delta and American, God realized you weren’t going to give up and sent you a guardian angel(in the form of a Delta supervisor) as a gift for your perseverance! This was certainly a good lesson in “hang in there” and “don’t give up”!! Love you, Mom

      • Thanks, Mom–that trip was worth all the time on the phone with the airlines. We had a great time, didn’t we!
        Love you–Jill

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