Terror has no place here

September 11, 2011

If you have a living memory of this day ten years ago, it is a day you will never forget. The atrocities, the suffering, the heroism and the long-lasting impact of September 11th have forever marked our world’s landscape.

It was also the day that air travel changed. Forever.

For anyone who has had to nearly disrobe at security, suffer the scrutinizing scorn of a guard who thinks your ten-year-old might be hiding something under his hat or feel the pervasive insecurity of being airborne for, you hope, the entire flight, the wave of terror still rings in our ears.

You may have watched the tributes, read the decade-later stories or even attended a commemorative service today. But one thing I would like to mention is that humanity lives on — even in the face of such inhumane events.

When my son boarded a United Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Chicago recently, he proudly wore his pilot’s hat. The stewardess suggested we meet the captain at the end of the flight. I thought perhaps he would come out of the cockpit and meet us in the safety of the jetway. But no, he invited us into the cockpit itself. I got to take a picture of my son sitting in the co-pilot’s seat. I even was allowed to flip a few switches to which the pilot mock-yelled “Don’t touch that one!” after I had. I jumped a foot in the air (which is hard to do in the confines of a cockpit). He was as kind as could be and even though we had under sixty minutes to meet our connection to Munich, I took the time because I wasn’t sure if my son would ever get to live in a world that allowed this again.

The kindness of the United Airlines folks goes further. Because a gate crew member reminded my husband that his frequent flyer miles had not yet been recorded, Husband asked for the crew to record his miles at the gate in Chicago. And from that request came another offer, this time from Lufthansa (our connecting airline): a free upgrade to Business Class, which Husband graciously offered to me.

Kindness goes around and around, from the ground crew to the air crew to the next one at O’Hare.

There is humanity in this world, even at airports and on airplanes. Terror has no place where love can grow so beautifully. And it can grow anywhere. Even in a cockpit four feet wide.

Unsticking the Stuck

September 10, 2011

The other day I was tasked with a quick-turnaround piece that someone asked me to write. My head had been filled with a variety of topics so by day’s end I felt fried. Stepping away from my desk, I decided to engage in some manual labor to get my mind off my thoughts and my hands on something I could actually feel. The act of dipping the watering can into the rain barrel felt like a christening of sorts. I could feel the fog peel away from my brain as I walked to and from the barrel to feed my indoor plants.

By the time I had dipped my hands into the sink to wash up a few dishes, an idea flashed across my mind about how I could approach the writing assignment. Fifteen minutes later I had whipped up something I thought mightily presentable.

People often say they get their best ideas in the shower. Research shows that a rested mind is a creative one. So the next time you are stuck, push yourself away from your normal surroundings and go somewhere new. You might just get that lightning bolt of inspiration that was lurking behind the door. Only this time you’ll have the key to unlock its glory!

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Shift happens.

September 6, 2011

Shift happens.

Going with the Flow

September 4, 2011

The Virgin River Narrows

Image via Wikipedia

The river runs through it. Through everything. In fact, life is a lot like a river. Despite the rocks and sticks and muddy waters, if you go with the flow, you’ll be better off.

To escape the broiling heat of Zion National Park, my husband enrolled me and the kids in a two-hour tubing excursion down the Virgin River. A day after a flash flood thundered through the canyons, we bravely listened to the on-site guide about the unguided tubing tour.

“This is not a lazy river,” she began. I envisioned a yawning tunnel of water, barely moving. Kind of like the James River near Richmond, VA.

“You will get bumped and caught on rocks. So beware.” She inserted a dramatic pause, then continued. “Whatever you do, never, ever let go of your inner tube.” With that, she showed us the way to the trail that lead to our certain demise.

I plopped in the river first, demonstrating the ‘turtle flop’ she had showed us on land. The kids aptly followed, then Husband. Within 60 seconds, we were ambling downstream, accompanied by the sound of rushing water.

At first I ambitiously fought the rocks that snagged and snarled me at every turn. I actively pushed my way hither and yon, fully expecting to move more quickly down the Virgin if I could only be strategic enough. I wanted to be in the middle of that river because that’s where it seemed to run the smoothest. At some point my strength left me, so I allowed the river to do its will.

And wouldn’t you know, I was faster?

It was in that moment, as my tube was hurled onto a rock without restraint that I realized how powerful slow can be. You needn’t course correct for the mere purpose of being in midstream. You can allow those gentle bumps and swirls to guide you through seemingly impossible tight spots.

“A river really is a lot like life,” I concluded as we finally reached our shoreline destination. “Go with the flow and know there will be twists and turns to guide you to the end.”

The beauty of a river, like life itself, is the sound the water makes as it meets resistance. What sound do you make when you meet an obstacle? Herumph or hurray?

Trust the flow, my friends. It will take you where you need to be.


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