It’s no surprise to most of you that I’m kind of a frequent flyer – slash – frequent traveler.
The experiences I’ve had while traveling alone (sans fiance and/or my two beautiful children) have been some of the most poignant and interesting ones.
Recently when traveling to my hometown of Niceville, Florida, I met a little girl who was about my daughter’s age. She was a bright, bubbly girl who lived at the far east end of Panama City. She talked to me about inter-dimensional travel, creating worlds in Minecraft, galaxies, planets, light years, and everything else under the sun. I told her that she should harness all of her creativity and ideas and draw them in a journal and compile it into a little book.
A few months ago when I was traveling to Florida, I helped a woman work the Benefit vending machine during my layover in Houston; by the end of our interaction, she hugged me and told me what a bright light I had inside me.
Now, while all of these moments and happenstance meetings are without a doubt fleeting, they’re also special. They’re real. They’re genuine.
I always want to bottle up the way I feel when I have these small yet meaningful interactions so that I can open it up one day and watch it in my mind’s eye as if it were on a movie reel.
I travel back home a lot because my best girlfriend lives there and we have been close off-and-on since high school. Recently, though, my trip was for a less-than-exciting occasion. Her mother was in the hospital dying. Her mother actually passed away while I was there. To say that the occasion was sad and heavy would be a gross understatement.
Which brings me to my next point: life is fleeting. Our time here is relatively short. Why not live as yourself, as a genuine individual, instead of pretending who society wants you to be? Because there, truly, is no right or wrong way to “be.” Liberal or conservative, Democrat, Republican, independent, or apathetic – what happened to the days when we could all be friends with one another despite our religious or political beliefs? Rob Zombie said on Twitter about a year ago that one of his best friends was a conservative Republican. Rob Zombie is not. He said that that never once got in the way of their friendship or interfered with their relationship, even if they argued politics every now and again. He said this in response to Twitter’s outrage at the revelation that he is a vegan.
What have we become as a society, in America (and elsewhere – you guys do it, too), that someone’s choice to be a Vegan would cause such an uproar and elicit such anger and rage? I mean, honestly, what in the good Lord’s name has happened to all of us? When did we all become such a lynch mob, demanding someone’s blood for choosing to live their life a little differently than we live ours?
Kindness. Empathy. Courtesy. Sympathy. Humility. Forgiveness. Love. Unconditional love.
That’s what all of us need to practice more and more in our daily lives, especially these days when these qualities are so hard to find in others. We live in this social media bubble that demands perfection, assimilation, and for everyone to be a carbon copy of the next person; so much so that I rarely even post on Facebook anymore. If your post is not 100% positive, dripping with sunshine and rainbows, you’ll amass hundreds of awful comments verging on character assassination. How’s that for hypocrisy? The reality is that there is not one of us out there who exhibits or lives a life filled to the brim with perfection. That’s because perfection does not exist; it is not attainable.
Each of us has a myriad of idiosyncrasies, issues, quirks, ups and downs, sadness, happiness, anger, and every other emotion that exists. Letting these things out, rather than bottling them up, are what help keep us sane and grounded. That’s why we have friends; they are supposed to serve as a healthy mirror back of who we are as human beings. We’re supposed to be kind and open when a friend confides in us, without judgment or harshness, and also to be forgiving.
You never know what your neighbor, your customer, your cashier at the store, or the homeless man carrying a sign, have gone through that day. They, too, don’t know what you might have been through on that same day. Everyone goes through their own personal brand of suffering.
The next time you find yourself traveling, just ask the person sitting next to you at the airport how their day has been. You’ll be surprised what you might find out: not just about that person, but about yourself.
Peace, love and all the rest,