Arrived in San Diego after enduring the i-can’t-stand-the-last-hour-and-a-half leg of the flight. I did my usual scan of the plane writing movies in my head of all the characters on the plane. The tiny old Filipino man and his wife, seemed barely 3 feet tall with dark greasy hair covering all but his button nose and sagging eyes. He had on a wind jacket that a team athlete woould wear, that said Falcons Gymnastics on the back. I imagined him picking it up at a garage sale or thrift shop, oblivious to context it creates for him in the world. Is he an ex-athlete? A father of a gymnastic athlete? A coach? No. A tiny man who got a good deal. It made me thing about how we make meaning by our labels….where we work, how we vote, what are interests are. We go further. Is that person in line with that message? Size, look, dress, actions. Is it consistent? We look at thhe world through our filters, which we are ALWAYs doing, highly trained and developed over many years of meaning making. It IS entertaining none the less.
Planes are particularly interesting. Such a condensed cross section of people in a confined area for observation. An elongated petri dish of sorts. Literally rubbing elbows with one another.
Watching people come down the aisle caring entirely too much baggage (and I mean that in every way) slammming their laptop bags, backpacks and shoulder bags into every unsuspecting aisle person. I watch it in slow motion…like I’m seeing an accident coming before it actually happens. Noooooooooo.
I even save those I can, putting up my hand to deflect the impact. People with their heads down reading, unaware of the force approaching their sloped heads.
I think it’s a fantastic example of how people live in the world with each other…overburdened, caring baggage swing and swaying through life, mowing down those around them. I swear you can tell alot about a person on those three and a half hour flights. How aware they are of the world around them, how they affect others, how thoughful and awake are they. I read energy and observe the most subtle things. How they look at others, how they hold themselves, cross their legs, what books or magazines they are reading. cell phone, ipod, dvd, kid etiquette, body language. What they look at and how. Face expressions, coughing. How they get up when the plane has come to a complete stop and the seatbelt sign has been turned off. Do they put their tray in the looked and upright position without having to be told several times like a 8 year old.
Then there are the people I say things like “What an awesome guy I wish he were my dad” or “I want to be like that woman when I grow old” or “I bet she is amazing to hang around”. There are the kind, thoughtful, engaged and interesting. Those I deplane with and feel like I’m leaving an old friend. I have learned about umteen subjects, what people are truly committed to, what’s important or interesting to them. Amazing how intimate you can get with a complete stranger in such a short amount of time and how perfectly familiar some old souls are and you revel in the recognition of each other and the time you have together to catch up on millions of years and universes. Souls smiling and better for having the time together.
It’s all there. Seeing is a verb.