Monday, September 25, 2006

United Airlines Flight to London

I am on a United Airlines Flight to London - catching up on e-mails, and writing a letter. If this is to continue to be a real blog, then I need to share private moments, right? So here is a letter...

I have to share this very special moment with you – it is happening to me right now. I’m on a flight to London and the pilot just announced that "nature was putting on a light show" on the left side of the plane.

Looking outside of the window, I huddled my hands around my head to block the light from the guy reading in the seat behind me. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I can see what at first looks like a cloud – and now I recognize it as the Northern Lights -- like an the wisps of an airbrush from a painter in heaven. The sky is lit up with so many colors. It looks like you can see the earth moving through space. We’re far above 35,000 feet. Looking up, I can clearly see the big dipper above us - in what looks like a bright starlit darkness.

The navigation map says we are someplace south of Greenland over the Atlantic Ocean. I’m listening my ipod – Howie Day’s Acoustic version of his song "Collide."

The Dawn is breaking....

The older women sitting on my left cannot use her hands – they are shaking – she may have Parkinson’s. She is so sweet. I’m helping her get her fork out of the wrapper now, and get her earphone plug in. She was a nurse for people before they passed away, once helping others and now she is the one who needs help. She is trying so hard to maintain her pride, even though some of the most basic things require assistance. She decided to take a trip to Africa to go on a safari – alone.

I think her family has passed, and she needs a wheelchair, the flight crew carried her on the plane and sat her next to me. She told me about her safari, and that she "simply had to see the real lions," because she collects all things lion. And, she wanted to pet a giraffe. She lives on a ranch in California, and her eyes would light up when she would talk about her animals who she so obviously loved with all her heart. She was genuinely a caregiver.

I was watching a movie on my mini-screen, and she was watching her movie, and at some point I realized she started to watch my movie. I knew what was going on. She was watching my small screen because she wanted to watch something with someone, not alone. It mattered not what it was that I was watching, or if she could hear the sound, it could have been a blank screen, but for that moment, we were doing something together and that meant a great deal to her.

I can feel her resolve to still-do-despite-her-illness, just from sitting next to her. It breaks my heart, and renews my faith to see the courage she is exhibiting -- insisting that she can do the smallest of things with her hands that are no longer working very well.

Even the best fall down sometimes, even the wrong words seem to rhyme, some how find you and I’d collide.

She’s asleep now. Her hands are not shaking any more, they only shake when she is awake and trying to move them.

I’m quiet you know, you make a first impression.
Even the stars refuse to shine.

In moments like this, I feel like I’m traveling above the earth, in the firmament of my life.

In these moments I look back on my life and consider that though we may seem to be just ants in this global human ant hill, we are more than ants. Finding out at some point in our lives that we are only one among the 6 billion people on one planet, jetting around one sun, traveling among trillions of stars in the sky - it would easy to feel insignificant. Yet it is the very people whose numbers would theoretically make us feel less significant, that in a moment as simple as helping one person take their plastic fork out of its plastic wrap -- with a glance of thanks -- help us to scratch the surface of our great significance.

Are we not a walking aid station to the lives we touch every day? Are we then not also the stars and lights that brighten the skies and the lives of our friends, lovers and family. We are not mere ants in a human ant hill, but stars that shine as the music plays in the lives of those around us.

Time to glisten.