My flight to Tucson earlier this week included three legs and two layovers that totaled twelve hours from drop-off to pick-up.
But I was prepared. I brought reading materials. And an intention to look for opportunity to do a random act of kindness. Or two.
And so I smiled at strangers, and stood back to let others go in line before me.
And I chatted with seat mates (but not overly much), and gave my packet of tissue to someone with allergies, and prayed silent prayers of blessing for my fellow travelers.
At two different terminals, I stood across the way and listened to guitar players as throngs of people rushed past their music, not noticing them. And then I cut through the crowds and dropped $$ into their open guitar cases.
At the Los Angeles terminal, I chatted with a couple of teenaged girls. When I learned they were part of a high school choir traveling to Boston to compete at a festival, I withdrew $$ from a nearby ATM.
Introducing myself to the choir director, I explained why I wanted to make a donation — because of my own unforgettable, gleeful national and international travel experiences with teenagers.
The young choir director stared at me with open mouth.
I sat at a different gate so no one would feel awkward, but the director found me: “Is it OK if we sing a song for you.”
I found myself holding my breath, the music was that gorgeous, this a cappella harmony, these beautiful teenagers, their eyes following their director’s charge to go loud, to go soft, to end full out.
Other passengers-in-waiting stood up to videotape, and clapped along with me in delight.
Someone named Nanea Hoffman said this:
No matter what chaos and difficulty the world throws at you, remember: there are still fresh cups of coffee and good books and funny friends and tiny moments of nerdy joy to celebrate.
I think she meant “fresh cups of Chai tea” … but still.
How nerdily joyous was it to notice — really notice — and show kindness in whatever small way I could throughout the long travel day.
Because who knows which fellow travelers were carrying heartbreak, or stress, or fear — hidden so well behind their masked faces as they passed by.
If there was one thing my husband, Gary, and I learned during the cancer years, it was to focus outward—away from our own hard places—to see others in challenging circumstances. And then to do whatever small thing we could to help.
A few years back, our oldest granddaughter, twelve years old at the time, came to visit Gary and me for ten days. We ventured over to the coast, stopped at a couple places in Portland, and then spent the remainder of the time in our destination resort town of Bend.
While driving one of Bend’s streets, Lilly commented from the backseat, “You sure have a lot of human beings in Oregon.”
Her grandpa sputtered. “And New Jersey doesn’t have a lot of human beings?!” he asked incredulously.
Turns out, Lilly was referring to the Human Bean — little coffee kiosks she had noticed in various Oregon locations. Smile.
Sitting up and paying attention to my fellow human beans in airports and on planes, and looking for opportunity to do random kindness … this, this brought moments of nerdy joy.
And this twelve-hour gift of a travel day—this flying north to get south, my boots on the ground in four different states—was the best kind of day.
P.S. If you know someone who could use some nerdy joy, please share, tweet or pin!