Airports are very special places. My new path has taken me to many terminals, and they all have one thing in common. Among the Chili's Express and the souvenir shops sits something I've never noticed. A powerful energy exists within these hubs that is unmatched anywhere in the world. I've spent so much time rushing through these spaces that I never caught it before. Now with much of my week measured in layovers, I feel overwhelmed by it.
Perhaps you're like me and in a hurry to get to where you're going. Or maybe you are a people watcher and devote your time to guessing what destination lies in store for each traveler. It’s possible you maintain the same view everywhere you go. To sit in an airport with your headphones on and your forehead permanently tilted toward a screen is a great disservice to yourself. You are missing out on a genuine human experience.
Take the headphones off. Slow down. Stop guessing. Just sit. Feel. Listen.
In what other place can you find so much joy lingering with such deep sadness? A young man saying goodbye to his first love. A woman rejuvenated by thoughts of meeting her new grandchild. Newlyweds rushing to their tropical honeymoon. Brothers supporting each other through their father’s funeral. A business woman relocating to take a new job. Friends reuniting after years apart. Dreams being chased. Memories being made. Lives being left behind.
The airport really puts things in perspective for me. I smile as I pass through the security gate knowing I am going somewhere with my life. It all seems very big, very important, very relevant. And just like that I am replaced in an instant. Another traveler passes through the metal detector behind me whose life seems very big, very important and very relevant. A line of people going somewhere. A line of people quickly forgotten. I can't think of anywhere else that defines life and eternity so precisely. I spend so much time planning and anticipating my trip. I miss spending time with friends getting ready for it. I become detached from the things happening in the moment with daydreams of what is to come next. I wake up early on the day of my departure hardly having slept the night before. I make sure I have packed anything I might need to ensure comfort for a successful trip. With so much thought and effort put into it, surely it must be wildly significant. I rush to the airport and am almost surprised to find it full of other people who are the heroes of their own adventures. They don't notice me or acknowledge my big day. No one shares in my excitement for they are consumed by the plot of the story for which they are the protagonist. I seem to disappear.
The ground below me begins to shake and alters my position, my perception. I am one pebble on a towering slope. Only I cannot see the mountain because all I've looked at, all I've thought about, all I've known is how great I am at being a pebble. As I sit at the airport tonight surrounded by my fellow travelers, I do not feel sad to be one of many. I do not feel small. I do not feel insignificant. When I woke up this morning I was a pebble. By sundown I am a mountain. Sturdy. Powerful. Magnificent.
The airport is a very magical place.