I’m always a bit of a magpie when it comes to the older folk. I make it a point to listen intently to what they have to say and it just so happens that recently I was boarding a flight from Houston, Texas to Charlotte, North Carolina. I had been bumped from my previous flight due to an emergency landing… blah blah blah— contributing to my growing anxiety with flying but anyways, I ended up loosing my chosen seat assignment and was placed in 8E… The dreaded middle seat. I tried to upgrade my seat to first class and I even resorted to desperately begging the gate representative to find me another option. It was a completely full plane and nothing was available. I realized it must have been fate when I found out I was placed between two bigger men. I had never been claustrophobic until that moment and I started panicking. I contemplated buzzing the flight attendant for a (double) alcoholic beverage before the door was even closed. I pumped up the volume to an Alan Watts podcast I was listening to and attempted zen (lol) but I couldn’t slow my heart rate down, and the lump in my throat felt intolerable. I was completely sober and painfully aware of my budding anxiety. (Which is a strange impending development, considering that once upon a time I use to fly planes…) But with all the high intensity alerts and security procedures– I’m in the process of trying to determine if its fear of people or fear of planes. Noting my anxiety the man to my left in the window seat gave me a friendly smile, joked about being an older folk, who may spill his drink on me.. I forced a laugh and confessed my fear so he wouldn’t think I was an insane person. He laughed and shared, with a twinkle in his eye; that I had nothing to be afraid of. On that day last year he dropped dead while helping an old friend in Indiana. He said, “being dead is a great place, I loved being dead. But I love my wife and couldn’t leave her just yet. I have ringing in my ears and it stopped when I was dead, and I remember what it was like. It was amazing, I can’t wait to go back.” Ole’ Heckler or Bill as he referred to himself shared with me some great life advice and recounted hilarious stories you know could only come from a born and raised Texan. But he also brought me to tears when he shared the heart aching pain of losing a young grandchild tragically. I want to especially dedicate this post to Bill and his family, and all the Angels out there.
Bill– thank you for reminding me of all the good a smile can do.
I think of all the conversations and inspiring people I may have missed out on… But moving forward– instead of living/traveling with earbuds in, I’m going to enjoy the existence of the people that are placed in the seat next to me. May you do the same… ✨