The lady seated to my left is quietly sleeping, now that the turbulence has ended and the plane is smoothly making its way across Texas. Her neatly groomed white hair frames a lightly tanned face, with lips that support a broad smile, and wrinkles that testify to memories of a life fully lived. She boasts those fine lines at the corners of her mouth that come from smiling more often than frowning. I had the pleasure of speaking to her while she was being helped onto a wheelchair while boarding. She didn’t understand English and it didn’t matter, because she said thanks with a sincere smile and nod when I offered help. I did not need a linguist to interpret her meaning.
I have spent the last week travelling across three countries, meeting dozens of people representing a vast spectrum of economic and social differences. People who wore extreme wealth like a badge over their heart, and also those in poverty – shielding themselves in doorways of grey block houses. I met people who were obvious in their advanced education and life experiences, who were a contrast to others with limited opportunity and even less chance at mobility. Most that I met existed somewhere in between. They were nice people, good people, friendly caring people, and I enjoyed meeting and working with them. I’ve said this many times before, but it needs repeating: People are just people – no matter where they live. I am continually amazed how incredibly alike we all are, no matter where we call home, or the design of our flag.
We live in different surroundings so our homes are designed for the climate where we live. We eat and speak with a different emphasis; our comfort foods fill the same need but look and tastes altogether different. We are the moon, sun and stars; all occupying the same space, but in very unique ways.
Once again, life has taught me the beauty of commonality, the existence of a link that binds everyone together in a merged desire – the love of family. In business meetings and social gatherings, once the topic of the event was discussed, and shallow conversations had concluded, we always migrated to what really matter to each individual; their family. We talked about soccer games, vacations, hockey, first boyfriends, college, and missing our spouse while away at work. We shared dreams for our family, and worries of unknown dangers: one man told me how he had to deal with someone who was bullying his youngest son. Another told about the stress of saving for college, yet he did it because the need for education outweighed the cost. Our backgrounds were different, but our lives followed a common thread.
I told the aged lady in the wheelchair when we boarded that the shawl she wore was beautiful. She had no idea what my words meant, but by the smile on my face and the tone of my voice, she knew what I said was friendly and kind. She knew that I cared. We shared a link.
There is a family that lives two blocks from you that you have never met. They have kids, dogs, jobs, and dreams just like you. They would love meeting you, and you will love meeting them. So, go find them and share a link. Everyone will benefit – you’ll see.
Thanks for reading.