by Elisha Joyce
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in an airport. With three kids, it’s more economical to pile ‘em all up in the car and drive somewhere – so, for the last couple of years that’s what we’ve done: drive to our destinations.
This is why when my boy and I arrived at the airport for our trip to Honolulu a couple days ago I walked through the experience with fresh eyes – with joy, with anticipation, with excitement. I mean, we were at the airport! We were about to get on an airplane!
We were heading out for a real island adventure – and getting there was just as much a part of the adventure in my mind. So – I traveled with my eyes wide open:
I smiled at everyone I made eye contact with. (And, for the record, most people either look straight ahead or down at the floor – so eye contact is not common.)
I asked people that checked our boarding passes and ID their names.
I thanked the gal working in the bathroom for being there.
We rode the moving walkway and didn’t walk – we just stood and enjoyed the ride.
We lingered by windows and watched the miracle of huge airplanes soaring into the sky like birds taking flight.
We played “i spy” with the gate numbers as I let my little guy figure out where we had to be. (“Sebby, we’re at D-5. Find a “D” and a “5″ and that’s where our plane is.”)
I said good morning to the flight attendants, and then said goodbye and told them they did a great job as we deplaned.
Every step was something to be savored.
While I was determined to appreciate every second of my journey, here is the honest truth: the airport and the airplane were sad places.
I can count on one hand how many smiles I saw. Even families that were traveling together had blank stares in their eyes – detached, disengaged, numb. Weary. People were just weary. Sullen faces. Frustrated eye rolls. Anger over rules, over delay, over other travelers that either took up too much space or too much time.
Rush, rush, rush. Get out of my way. No time for chit-chat. Heavy bags, heavy hearts. Places to go, people to see. They all seemed to be dreading the journey in front of them (or angry and exhausted over where they had come from). There was no place for niceties, or sweetness, or connection. It was the feeling of “get it done and get on with it”.
Everyone looked exactly the same. Everyone. Exactly the same.
Traveling made me wonder: do I blend in with these wearied travelers? As I walk through the world – as I parent, as I volunteer, as I live – does my face show the signs of a hard journey? Do I look frustrated? Do my eyes have a habit of rolling when I don’t get my way? Do I have patience and love for those around me? Am I burdened by my baggage and anxious to rush from A to B? Do I give off the “don’t bother me” vibe? Do I fit right in with the masses?
One beautiful little scripture in 1 Peter says we are to live as aliens and strangers in this world. That means we aren’t supposed to look like everyone else and act like everyone else. God’s children are supposed to stand out – to be out of the ordinary, foreign, different. We are supposed to shine forth light that cannot be hidden. We are to be strange.
Oh, how I long to be stick out like a yellow tulip in a field of red. I pray as I travel through this life to be worthy of comments like: “What’s up with her? … Why the heck is she so happy?… Why is she so encouraged? … How come she’s always smiling? … Why is she always hugging everyone? … Where did she come from? Why the heck is she so… strange?”