Sunday, August 26, 2012

Delayed By God

August 24th, 2012:

I am sitting at the airport.

 O’Hare in Chicago to be exact. This post isn’t about where I’m going. In fact that part is completely irrelevant. Why would I write a predictive blog about something that has yet to happen? For all I know, I might never make it there.

 What I want to talk to you about instead, are the moments that led up to this. Do you ever just feel like doing something crazy? Something like booking a flight to a place you haven’t been. That’s what I did. I had three days of vacation left before I leave my job, and they have been great, but this was an opportunity.

 I woke up at 2:30 a.m. I showered, and packed up the remainder of my things. After a two hour drive to St. Louis, I parked my car in a lot about two miles away from the airport, and walked to the bus stop. A young girl in her late teens stood there by herself. I said “good morning” and she smiled. Nothing significant. It was simply an acknowledgement, which sparked my next thought.

 I was soon to be surrounded by thousands of blending faces, but what would it take for me to stand out? Even if it was just to a few. If one person could reach their destination thinking “how nice” about the young girl in the grey t-shirt, with a camouflage back-pack and simple smile, then whether or not I ever reached my destination would be irrelevant. My trip would have been a success.

 What I really wanted though, and even tweeted about, was to share one sporadic and in depth conversation with someone face to face. Maybe on the plane?

 So I started my morning of happiness and encouragement with the check-in ladies. They were struggling to wake-up, again it was only 5:45 am at this point. They took my bag, and whispered quietly amongst themselves. I smiled, and said loudly “Good morning!” The first of the two smiled and said “good morning” in return. She asked for my I.D, and I made a joke about how the picture was what I usually looked like at 5 a.m. The other lady looked at it and they both laughed, reassuring me it looked fine. Before taking my bag to the next kiosk I paused. I looked at both of them and said, “Thank you ladies. Very much. I hope that you have a fantastic rest of your morning.”

 How many people do you think usually go without making eye contact with these women? Just shuffling through their busy day. How many genuine “thanks” do you think they get? Apparently not enough, because one lady reached out and touched my hand. She said “Thank you. You too, Dear.” I waved, and carried on my way. I made an effort to pass friendly smiles to as many people as possible.

 What I found was that before long, I was feeling really happy. I wanted to smile. Here I was at an airport at the crack of dawn, but I was enjoying myself.

 My flight was supposed to board at 7:15 a.m, and depart at 7:45 a.m. We boarded, but almost immediately the captain came across the line.

 “I apologize for the delay, but there seems to be some electrical issues with the tail-lighting. It will take approximately thirty minutes to correct.”

 During this time, no one sat next to me. I was alone in my two-person row, sitting quietly beside the window. I was a little disappointed. I had planned to strike up my conversation here. That's the problem with planning. Nothing ever really goes the "way we planned".

The captain came back thirty minutes later telling us they were unable to correct the problem and we would need to exit the plane, and reboard a new one. 8:15. My connecting flight was at 9:45. We could still make it. At 8:30 am there was still no new plane. The other customers were getting anxious, as I found myself doing also.

 I did the only thing I could think to do at the time.

 I turned to the ladies behind me and struck up a conversation as we waited. Turns out they were a mother and daughter taking a trip to Scotland for the daughter’s birthday. The daughter works in Ontario, so they rarely get to see each other.

 The mother and I discussed how delay was simply God’s plan. I said what I always do, which is “Everything happens for a reason, and exactly the way that it should.” She agreed.

 Turns out she is a writer. I mentioned my blog to her, and she seemed genuinely interested. We talked about an upcoming project idea that she asked to apply to be a part of. She didn't know a thing about me. Not my sexuality, not my ethnicity, not my religon (per say). All she knew was I was a friendly stranger with like minded views on the reality of our lives and lack of control on it's outcome. There was no reason for us to stress. It wouldn't change anything. 

Another ten minutes full of enlightening conversation later she said to me, “You are a lovely young woman, and I have genuinely enjoyed this conversation. Now I see why God pulled me off this plane.”

 I was baffled. With one sentence, this woman made my whole day better. It wasn’t even bad before, but I knew I stood out to her. I had my conversation, and I enjoyed it face to face with a complete stranger. It really is funny how God works. We were both human. Good hearted, friendly people. What I realized even more strongly than ever before, is if we could all ook past the things that we judge each other based off of, we would find equality. It's already there. It's just waiting on us to embrace it.

There are good people, and there are people who struggle to be good. I don't think anyone ever really sets out to be bad. If they do then I can only assume that they struggle with that based on a heart filled with sadness. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's difficult to think anyone wakes up intending to cause harm. 

This woman was able to look at me for who I was. Not for what I did, how I was born, or what my preferences were. 

I will fight for that… everyday. I will keep that lovely woman in my mind. I will carry her words with me everywhere I go. People like her are the reason that I strive to be better. They're the reason that I believe that one person can make a difference. That's the reason that I won't give up until we reach that place in our hearts.

 I boarded that plane moments later. It brought me here to Chicago, and now I sit quietly in a cubicle off to the side writing this post. I’ll still make an effort to smile and say hello, but for the rest of the day I think I’ll listen.

 It’s amazing to see the changes in my life that God is making right in front of me. The person I’m becoming, the way that I feel. There was something missing in the days before… Something that left a gaping hole inside of me. That something was the wonders of God. I don’t mean to preach, and that’s not what I intend. Even if you aren’t religious or don’t worship the same way that I do, I encourage you to believe. I encourage you to have faith in something greater than yourself. I wouldn’t consider myself religious. I consider myself spiritual I encourage you to appreciate the wonders of the world and all that it entails.

 Another hour and a half until I board the next plane to my final destination. What’s funny, is in a way my trip has already climaxed.

 Remember me,

 I’m Tennessee. 

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