It’s no secret that I love to travel – especially flying. It doesn’t matter where I’m going, really. I just want to be going. I love love love the airport – there’s no people-watching like people-watching at the airport. I don’t mind a long layover…I could sit at the airport all day.
Right now, I am writing from gate B7 in the Phoenix International Airport while I wait to board a flight to Minneapolis. From my perch I can see:
- a flight attendant waiting to dead head on our flight,
- an architect who has strategically placed his plans across three seats (one on each side of him) in what I assume is an attempt to avoid a social situation,
- a patient woman situating her elderly mother for the wait to board,
- a bridesmaid (I can tell by the dress she’s gingerly carrying on),
- a sweet older couple contentedly holding hands in silence (they’re in matching khakis and sweaters – I die),
- a young guy with his Beats sleeping on his duffle bag on the floor,
- a couple of friends headed on some sort of guys trip (they’ll meet the other guys there, I heard – they’re a boisterous bunch),
- a super trendy woman whose outfit and carpet bag are both things I’m going to Pinterest later,
- parents with a set of twins pulling their matching Pet Rescue luggage (it’s their very first flight and they are beyond excited),
- a guy wearing a Harley Davidson t-shirt and a bandana over his long grey hair, so I assume he’s a biker from his look, but he’s also carrying a bag with a picture of a cat and rainbows on the front, so now I’m not sure. I suppose he could be both a biker and a cat lover…they just don’t seem compatible.
On this one trip alone I’ve heard a grandma shed happy tears meeting her sweet new grandbaby for the first time, and a couple tearfully saying goodbye – who knows for how long? As for Ty and me, we are flying last-minute to his grandmother’s funeral, and Ty is apprehensively practicing what he will say when he remembers her at the service. Emotions are running high for us, too.
It’s easy to be wrapped up in our own life. Traveling reminds me rather blatantly that I am small in this big world and there is so much going on around me. Aidan is a little daydreamer, and when we take him places, he just gets lost in his own little bubble. He’s notorious for running smack dab into strangers because he’s not aware of the hubbub going on all around him. We’ve started saying on a very regular basis, “Eyes up, Aidan. Pay attention to the people around you.”
In the last year of traveling and flying, I’ve started to think about my instruction to Aidan. What if I applied it to me?
“Eyes up, Hayley. Pay attention to the people around you.”
Traveling has begun to teach me, first and foremost, to be compassionate. It’s not that everywhere I go everyone is somehow worse off than I am and I should feel sorry for them. It’s that I am constantly reminded that there is so much diversity in the way that people live, and almost none of them are wrong. For the vast majority of the world, we are all good-willed people just doing the very best we can with the life we’ve been given. We can all use a hand every once in a while, and it makes all the difference in the world when someone notices you right then.
Now, just about every time I go to the bathroom in the airport, I come out with a story. Ty’s come to expect my, “I’m just gonna run to the bathroom really quickly…” to last quite a while now. I’ve helped a young new mom change her baby’s very first blow out diaper (I had to track down her Winnie the Pooh gear-laden boyfriend a few gates down to ask for new clothes – been there done that, sister), traded places with the male wheelchair attendant to help a sweet little old lady go to the bathroom, and rubbed a teenager’s back as she threw up from her fear of flying.
The people you meet or encounter when you’re in the airport are extremely diverse, and are all equally important to Jesus. It is important that we remember that because we belong to Jesus, we belong to each other. We could all use a helping hand sometimes – maybe even just a cheerful attitude at security.
This philosophy has started to spill into my everyday life more and more, and I’m trying to point it out to my boys any chance I get.
“Eyes up, boys. Pay attention to the people around you.”
What would happen if, airport or not, we started to notice the people around us? If we took our eyes off our own feet and saw the messiness, the joy, the hard parts of the lives around us? If we actually noticed Jesus’ people?
I want to be that kind of person and I want to raise those kinds of boys – Spartans. Spartans who see the humanity around them and step right in with gusto and joy. Spartans who love Jesus’ people just like Jesus asked us to.
I love the airport and now that I’m paying attention, I am really starting to love these people.
Especially the cat-loving, Harley-riding guy in the corner. He’s probably a hoot.