I stepped into Cleveland International Airport tonight, windblown and covered with raindrops. My laptop bag was slung over my right shoulder and my duffel bag on my left. I walked up to the self check-in stand and was just about to begin the familiar process when a hurried woman flew up behind me and instructed me to follow her. She didn’t gather any of the other passengers who were using nearby kiosks, so I was certainly curious what this was all about.
“Destination city?” she asked me. I told her I was headed to Minneapolis through Chicago. She typed feverishly on the terminal in front of her.
“I.D. please,” she stated. She banged her fingers on the keyboard for another couple of minutes before handing me what looked like a boarding pass.
“Go to that airline down there, they can help you.” She instructed. Before I could ask her what was happening, she was gone. I threw my bags back over my shoulders and trucked myself down the terminal to the airline she told me to go to. I handed the agent the slip the other woman had given me and she handed me a boarding pass. It was a direct flight that got me home an hour and a half earlier than my original one. I was happy, but perplexed.
As I sat in the terminal awaiting my new flight, I noticed on the boards that my original one was over 2 hours delayed. I wanted to run back to the ticketing agent and hug her. What brought her into my life at that very moment? How did she know to grab me before I had even checked in? Why hadn’t she asked any of the other passengers standing there? So many questions I will never get answered, but I was appreciative.
I’m typing this in the dark cabin of a small plane, staring out the window at the night sky filled with stars that are even more brilliant when you are 29,000 feet closer to them than usual. The clouds are skimming the belly of our plane as we barrel across the night sky. I feel grateful. I feel calm. I feel refreshed. But most of all I feel inspired.
My feet were dangling over the water of Lake Harriet as I sat on the cement wall that lines part of the north shore. The sun was quickly disappearing to the other side of the world and the Minneapolis skyline started to sparkle over the treetops as I took a few moments to chill at the end of some inspiring miles. Leaves crunched as runners sped by. A couple that was clearly on a first date made awkward conversation at a table to my right. A woman stood behind her easel, painting the magnificent view we were all enjoying. I took a deep breath. I loved this place.
Something great happens to me when I hit the trails after work. Everything else melts away and I take the time to SEE the things around me. And I think. A lot. About everything.
As I’ve gone though a bit of a transformation the past year or so, I’ve really focused on being a better human. Not that I was ever a BAD human, but I think we could all be better. Stuff that used to bug the crap out of me really doesn’t anymore. When I find myself getting annoyed with something stupid, I take a second to look beyond that moment.
For example, tonight I swung by the local sandwich shop to grab something I could call dinner and the woman in front of me started arguing with the kid making her food about the amount of cheese he was putting on her sandwich. She got really nasty, demanding more and was ‘appalled’ that he hadn’t put on what she deemed as enough (complete with an eye roll). I started getting annoyed with this lady and really wanted to ask her what the big effing deal was. Did she really need all that extra cheese? And was it really necessary to argue about it the way she was?
Then I realized I was being like her, in a way, by getting pissed about something that wouldn’t matter 3 minutes from that moment. Her actions didn’t matter. Mine did.
When it was my turn to order, I smiled at the young man behind the counter and he smiled back, seemingly relieved that I wasn’t going to bite his head off about the amount of dairy products he put on my turkey sandwich. We made small talk and in a matter of moments we had both forgotten about the cheese lady.
I think that’s an important lesson to reflect on. One I know I need to dig deeper into…