I was away for a week; living out of hotels; participating in back to back meetings; and eating meals with people I do not know. It was intense and exhausting but it was also stimulating and exhilarating. As the week progressed, I found myself operating in a different way. I found myself opening to the people around me; talking to, and joking with, strangers everywhere I went.
During my 30-minute trip to the Halifax Airport, I heard about the challenges faced by independent taxi drivers from Brian. He told me about the scarey fares, the people who rip him off, and the women who offer him sex in exchange for rides. For three days in a row, I shared jokes with the waitress who served us breakfast at the hotel in downtown Halifax. It started on Halloween when she waited on us in her Mother Teresa costume. In the security line-up at the Halifax Airport, the security woman who had the job of “patting me down” joked with me. She assured me that I was better off with her doing the “pat down” then one of the guys because none of them “were that good looking”.
On the airplane, I had a conversation about child-rearing with an older business man who was on a golf trip with his buddies. He told me how he refused to buy computer games for his kids when they were young because he wanted them to play outside. He also said that he always told his kids to trust their intuition about what feels like a safe or unsafe situation. I found it comforting to know that this self-employed business man who lives on the other side of the country has raised his kids with beliefs that are very similar to my own.
During my 1-hour shuttle trip from the Toronto Airport, I had a chance to get to know Juin, a man who migrated to Canada from mainland China 15 years ago. He trains health professionals in hospitals across the country how to use sophisticated medical technologies such as those which support heart hpace-makers. He told me that his English as a Second Language (ESL) course opened the door to a good job for him here in Canada. When we brought our shuttle driver into the conversation, we discovered that when he was a school board administrator, he set up the ESL program in Hamilton and that his wife had been Juin’s instructor! It was one of those conversations that reaffirms the view that we are all connected in some way.
While travelling by air usually feels like a chore to be quietly endured, yesterday it felt like a wonderful opportunity to meet new people from different walks of life; people who are bright and thoughtful; people who are caring and compassionate; people who come from different parts of the world but share fundamental values. Yesterday, it felt like fun. When I got home, I did not feel tired and exhausted; I did not feel lonely and alone. Yesterday, I found myself thinking how good like can feel when we open ourselves to the many little opportunities to connect with the people around us; when we can align ourselves with the incredible lightness of being.