As I waited to board the plane, I decided to find a seat in the first five rows. It was a short flight so a middle seat would be fine. They called the flight and, as I boarded, I reminded myself to look for that seat near the front. I found it in the fourth row and settled in between two young women. Once we took off, the young woman in the aisle seat cordially began a conversation. Before too long, the one to the left joined us.
The topic of conversation turned to fear of flying when we felt the plane respond to air currents over the mountains. Both women shared a fear of flying. One had learned to deal with it quite calmly; the other was only beginning to fly after a frightening experience. As women are prone to do, we had quite a lengthy discussion. What impressed me was that these two women, less than half my age and I am almost 71, were so open and honest with themselves and with us. One said, “Please don’t share exact details. I do very well now but details can still trigger me.” The other responded, “Of course! What do you do to help yourself because I am getting anxious right now?”
I sat back and listened as one gave useful and compassionate responses to the other. As the conversation slowed, I offered my insights on using breath to calm the body and mind. I also suggested that regular, simple meditation techniques are effective. Further details are not important.
As the plane landed and we prepared to disembark, we all thanked one another for an interesting and fun time together. We had shared our fears, our desires to be more balanced and ultimately our laughter and encouragement. We all agreed that it seemed like a twenty-minute flight rather than an hour.
My discussion with one of the women continued at baggage claim. Why am I not surprised that our bags were side by side!
I left the terminal smiling. What a wonderful experience! Strangers discovered common experience and spent an hour compassionately supporting one another in powerful ways. Openness of mind and heart, whether sharing or responding, made the trip easier for one as she gave another real hope for her future travels. Though I do not have a fear of flying, it isn’t as fun as it used to be so I do avoid at times. This trip made me want to go again!
When you lead with an open heart, you aren’t really strangers after all. Love and peace abound. I will smile every time I think of those two lovely, open-hearted young women. May they be abundantly blessed. As may each of you.