I can’t begin writing without first acknowledging what happened in Boston yesterday. Like so many of us, my first reaction was anger. How on Earth could someone inflict such pain on fellow humans? It’s something I can never, ever comprehend and each time these all-too-frequent tragedies occur my faith in humanity dwindles a little more. I’ll come back to this.
After a long week, I finally found myself on the ground back in the Midwest late this past Friday night. I couldn’t get out of the airport fast enough.
The air was freezing and there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground as I stepped into the large cement parking ramp where I’d left my car nearly a week before. Did I fly back to December? No. It was April. But I didn’t care. I was just happy to be home.
It had been an exhausting week for a variety of reasons, the parade of airline delays being just one of them. I stood in my shower and let the hot water and steam melt away the tension in my body, even if only temporarily.
The past week didn’t even seem real. It felt so incredibly ‘off’ in almost every way, that I wasn’t quite convinced it wasn’t some elaborate dream. Or nightmare, depending on how you want to look at it.
After five hours of delays, I was able to get onto a small commuter jet on Friday evening. I snapped up literally the last seat and was pleasantly surprised to find it was the first row behind first class. Things were looking up, I thought to myself.
I climbed into the window seat next to a business man who was unsettled in his seat. He kept sighing loudly and changing which leg was crossed over the other.
DING. He hit the call button for the flight attendant. DING. DING. He hit it again and again.
A man dressed in Delta blue came over to see what the man wanted.
“I want to know why I didn’t get upgraded to First Class,” the man snapped, “I was first on the upgrade list.” He sighed loudly again, sounding like a toddler who didn’t get a cookie.
He was incredibly rude, but the attendant kept his composure. He explained how the crew was not employed by the airline, so he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t been upgraded, but he’d look into what happened.
“We’ll move you up to First Class as soon as we’re airborne, sir,” the attendant told the man a few minutes later. He was overly apologetic and nice and part of me hoped the man sitting next to me felt a little ridiculous about his behavior.
He was eventually moved one row ahead into the last row of first class, sitting next to a man who was at least twice my size and I’d venture to guess he had less leg room than we had in the first row of coach. It’s all about status in his eyes, I suppose.
I contemplated that for awhile. That’s something that has never, ever been important to me and I always wonder how or why it motivates other people. What is lacking in their lives that expensive things or status symbols fill? When you really take a look, almost always there’s something more genuine missing.
I know, I’ve been there. I used to hide from things that scared me. I was lacking confidence and filled that hole with food. It wasn’t until I faced things head on that I started to feel like a complete person. It was then that I was able to push ahead and become a better version of myself.
Before becoming better, we have to be content. You have to be okay with who are. Know yourself. Then push yourself to be better.
That’s what motivates me. As yesterday wore on and I read stories of incredible bravery… of people who ran towards the chaos to help others… I was reminded that all of humanity isn’t lost. That the good outnumber the bad. The anger drained away and turned into hope. I was more motivated than ever to go forward and be good to the people around me… and hope they will do the same to those around them… and so on.
My hope is that one day we can all embrace each other, even if we disagree. Where fear of things unfamiliar doesn’t manifest into hate. Where people aren’t discriminated against based on race, gender, sexual orientation. Where violence doesn’t seem like the only option to those struggling with their demons. Where we just accept and love each other simply as humans.
As soon as we become civil with each other, friends, no matter what… the world will change.
So let’s change it. You in?