The gem inside

Diamond with Clipping PathWe were told during a pre-boarding announcement that the flight from Atlanta to Denver would be completely full, a fact born out a few minutes later as fellow passengers crammed the aisles and moved slowly to their seats.

Traveling used to be fun but, today, it’s not. At times I wish for the appearance of Star Trek’s transporter technology or, at least, to borrow Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak–if for no other reason than to get between here and there with as little fanfare as possible. But today I decided to embrace the experience in a different way.

I made a point of looking at each person as he or she boarded the plane, watching their eyes, their smiles and frowns, their clothes, the ways they moved. And, I thought of something positive about each one of them.

The lady with the small child seemed like a caring mother. The businessman in a dark suit carrying a large briefcase was self-assured as he barked on his cell phone. The older man with a calm demeanor and stooped shoulders had, without doubt, traveled many miles in his life. The dangling earring on a young girl bounced as she held her doll close, protecting it from unspecified, but sure to materialize, harm; she’ll make a good mother, I thought. A muscular guy with a tattoo on his leg told his younger sister to keep moving toward the back of the plane, assuring her that she’d be at her seat very soon. The fear in a teenager’s eyes probably told the story of his first plane flight; I imagined him courageous. Another woman smirked at the flight attendant as she was told that her carry-on was too large for the overhead bin; it did fit after all.

Each person had a story to tell or to keep quietly inside. One passenger, a woman in her late 40s or so, asked a tall, gangly 30-something if he was a runner. “No,” he answered, “I’m a dance instructor.”

“Well, I’m running a marathon next year,” she said, “and I was wondering if you had any tips.” He didn’t. “So that’s what a dance instructor looks like,” I thought.

It reminded me that judging books by their covers and people by their appearance is hardly foolproof and mostly inaccurate.

I don’t know that people were better off for my thinking good about them, though I’ve often thought that good thoughts have power. I know, however, that I am better for it, if only to remind myself that there’s a gem inside each person, if we only have the desire to look for it.

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