Flying—sitting in a tiny chair suspended at 30,000 feet—has a way of narrowing my focus to important matters; it puts me in deep thought. I think about the loved ones I left safe on the ground below; I worry that they’re worried.
I think about deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that can form in the legs of frequent flyers and, according to an article I once read in an in-flight magazine, aspirate to the lungs and cause death. But, mostly I think about life.
It’s fragile and painful and wonderful.
To me, flying highlights the experience of living. It represents the journey, the ups and downs, the turbulence of the everyday, the shared vulnerability with complete strangers.
The most beautiful metaphor for life I have experienced on an airplane was on a flight to Pensacola, Florida a few years ago. My mother sat on the aisle, my wife in the middle, and I sat by the window on a crowded plane headed south.
Tanya, my wife, does not enjoy flying, but her least favorite part is the takeoff. And as the pilot issued final call and headed towards the runway, I felt Tanya’s fingers clamp around my knee, eyes shut, teeth clenched. The faster we went, the more she tensed up, and as I looked over to comfort her, I noticed my mother placing her hand into Tanya’s sweaty palm, giving her something else to squeeze.
Eventually, the plane leveled out and reached cruising altitude and Tanya’s fear subsided. However, when we approached our destination, as the plane drew closer to the ground, fear set in again, but this time not for Tanya.
My mother’s neck stiffened and she forced her head deep into the headrest and closed her eyes, preparing for impact. Tanya, calm and alert, noticed this and, without hesitation, reached for my mother’s hand. She held it until the plane landed and slowed to a stop.
The roles had reversed. In less than two hours, the comforted became the comforter, and vice versa. Read More…
Other than being locked inside of a bird sanctuary, I can think of no torture worse than solitary confinement. The thought of being in isolation is nightmarish.
It’s not that spending time alone is horrible. On occasion, we all need to step away from the noise to reflect in silence or read a good book. But even the act of reading is conversational, a kind of time travel dialogue between creator and consumer. The same could be said of music and film. Still, not even the transcendent power of the arts can replace the need for loving physical presence.
We are relational beings by nature. Nothing good ever comes from extended isolation.
Much of the violence, poverty and substance abuse in society can be traced, in part, to the absence of supportive parents and mentors. Obviously, there are several elements at play, but prisons are bursting with men and women with absentee fathers or mothers.
Clinics are busy treating grossly underweight individuals literally starving for a feeling of acceptance.
Transient men and women seek shelter in our streets unnoticed.
Many students walk through crowded halls feeling alone. Some look to death for solace.
It is not good for man to be alone. – God Read More…
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