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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Birds All Chirp At Us The Same Way

There are great levelers in this world.  They are events and occasions that make us all equal.  While living through a tornado, earthquake, or a hurricane doesn’t make anyone want to sign up to try them out, they level us all the same.  Riding on an airplane this weekend, it occurred to me that there doesn’t have to be a traumatic event for us to experience the same level.

Some travelers are friendly.  Some are anxious.  Some just want you to get out of their way because they have business to attend to.  It’s fun to meet them and talk to them about their lives and their destinations.  My layover in DC was a short 20 minutes and it was a fun 20 minutes because of a woman named Kim.  

She had an open seat next to her at the gate.  I politely asked if it was open and indeed it was.  As I happily sat down and began to enjoy a naughty vegetable sandwich with cheese from Five Guys, we quickly found kindred spirits within each other.  She was so excited to get to New Orleans to visit with her friend.  I had just come from a super fun weekend with a friend of my own.

Kim was from Maryland.  A flight attendant had walked by with a beautiful and natural afro.  I commented on how beautiful it was.  Anyone who knows me understands that I have a profound envy of anyone who can wear their hair that way.  Mine is flat and boring and I wish I could have beautiful poofy hair.  She explained, “that’s what we call going natural.”  I then complimented her on her braids and how I would look ridiculous wearing my hair in braids.  

Kim said that she knew white women who wear their hair that way.  She was very open minded about it and claimed that they rocked the look just fine.  We giggled when I joked that I’d likely get a sun burn in my rows if I rocked the braids.

We went on talking about race in the wake of the horrid tragedy in Charleston, SC.  Neither of us could understand why people hate.  If we two strangers could sit and have a fun conversation with one another, anyone could.  We chatted on and on, enjoying each other’s company.  

As we boarded the plane, we wished each other well.  She of course ended up in the seat directly in front of mine on board.  Next to me was an Asian pilot from Southern California, but living in Arkansas.  On the other side was a man from Upstate New York.  Behind us was a woman pilot.  We were all different, but we were all on the same level.  

Each of us was in coach.  Each of us hoped that the pilot hadn’t used anything perception altering prior to entering the cockpit.  Each of us wanted the air conditioning to work properly.  Each of us knew that a 2 1/2 hour flight would put us all to sleep at some point.  Each of us could care less about the race of the person next to us.  Each of us had a comment on the missing murderers from Dannemora Prison.

Perhaps that is what the media needs to focus on a little more.  There are human levelers all around us that distance us from the difference of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.  The birds all chirp at us the same way.  Everyone appreciates a beautiful sunset.  Everyone can see a genuine smile will brighten their way.  A dog will always love a new person to meet and greet.  A baby will giggle at you if you make funny faces at it.  We all love our children.  We all struggle with something from time to time.

Being friendly and kind is a choice.  Understanding the opportunity in meeting strangers is a gift.  You may only cross paths for a tiny amount of time, but the impression they make can change your life.  The next time you’re out on an adventure and you meet someone new, pay attention to the levelers.  They are everywhere.

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