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Colliding with joy at the airport
Musings after a weekend in Concord, MA
This weekend I spent a fair amount of time in airports. That time book-ended two days with a group of healers in a beautiful healing sanctuary near Boston, so it was worth it to be in those airports, but I don’t particularly care for the energy that is typically found there. People are stressed, rushing, and distracted. Everyone is looking down at their phones, eating [expensive] fast food, and wishing they were elsewhere. At this point in society, I suppose airports might be considered an essential piece of the machine that keeps the current version of the world turning, but I still don’t care to spend a great deal of time in them. Had I three months, the proper equipment, and a route that could avoid all interstate highway crossings, maybe I’d have preferred to ride a horse from Minnesota to Massachusetts. Alas, I only had the weekend, so flying it was.
During my time in Concord, in addition to wandering around Walden Pond’s emerald waters, listening to the spring birdsong, walking the labyrinth on the grounds of the retreat house, and spending time taking in nourishment in the form of sound, local foods, literature, and community. The healer I worked with, at the close of our Reiki session, reminded me to look for ways to bring joy into life. That seems like a given, especially for an author who writes regularly about mining for beauty and seeking joy, right? Yet it’s easy to let that practice slip when things get busy, or when you’re focused on helping OTHERS do it.
At the airport for my return flight, I got stuck to my phone–checking in, getting my boarding pass, looking up the weather back home (cold and snowy-gah!), making a social media post, reading emails that came in while I was unplugged Friday through Sunday morning. As I was about to click the little Instagram icon (again), I made myself pause. I darkened the screen and put the phone in my pocket. And as I sat there, waiting for it to be time to board, I started to notice the joy.
In the little boy who needed help walking, and his exuberant hellos to every person he and his family passed, and in the patience radiated by his parents as they took their time to get where they were going.
In the mother and daughter doing a full stretching routine in preparation for a long flight, and in the intentionality they placed on embodiment before surrendering their movement to another.
In the authenticity of the guy who came bouncing off a just arrived plane carrying an electric guitar case covered in stickers, dressed ready to take the stage with an 80s hair band (with the hair and black eyeliner to match).
In the impeccably dressed gentleman seated two rows over, who smoothed a cloth napkin on his lap before opening his bagged lunch and enjoying it with his eyes closed.
In the crabby elderly woman who I could hear complaining to her son about every little thing that came up, and in his gentle response to her discomfort.
In the gate agent checking boarding passes, and her kind eye contact with every single person who crossed her path.
As Wendell Berry wrote, “Be joyful because it is humanly possible.” Even at the airport. Perhaps especially at the airport.
Look for joy, because when you do, you’re more likely to find it.
Even at the airport.
Is the current version of the world the one that’ll add the sort of healing to the world that we so need? That may be a topic for another day…
Site of Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau’s iconic cabin experiment, and where many other literary figures in history made their homes many years ago.
I miss my trusty flip phone, which met its demise about six months ago, every day, and the simplicity using such a thing invited. But I will acknowledge that air travel is significantly easier with a smart device handy.