Years ago, I visited New York City with a well-traveled colleague. She constantly reminded me to “keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings; you never know who or what you might see!” Whether the purpose was to spot danger before it happened or to be star struck at the sight of a celebrity, I began to pay attention to the world around me. Shortly thereafter, I actually had my first celebrity spotting!
How often do you travel with your head down while talking on the phone, texting, or scrolling through social media? How often do you miss what’s happening? Have you ever focused on the wonder and goodness around you while traveling?
When we focus on the beauty and kindness that surround us; I believe our perspectives begin to change. On a recent trip while connecting through Atlanta, I overheard a passenger ask her seatmate if she had noticed how kind everyone had been on the flight. I had been too self-absorbed, dozing and working, to notice. Their conversation reminded me of what my colleague had mentioned in New York – I decided to “keep my head up.”
I started a conversation with my seatmate as we deplaned. She was from Latin America, did not speak English fluently and was traveling on her own for the first time. After learning that she was unsure how to navigate the Atlanta airport, I found myself walking with her to her concourse and gate. As I left a grateful foreign traveler, my gait was lighter, my head was held higher, and I decided to walk from Concourse A to D instead of taking the train. Along the way, two different travelers stopped me to ask directions, and I walked each of them to their gates!
Later on during my layover, I stopped to eat and was mesmerized as I watched an employee interact with the crowd. He passed out menus, assisted customers with utensils and created a sense of community while inviting patrons to “step in line and get the freshest food you can eat.” Passersby gathered just to watch him. The gentleman positively changed not only the experience of customers standing in line ordering food, but also those walking by.
Traveling can be stressful. Every week, there are more stories about unruly passengers, airline staff misbehavior and unfair treatment by the TSA. In spite of this, I believe many people are doing wonderful and extraordinary acts of kindness every day. Focus on the wonder and goodness that surround you and share what you notice. I’m thankful for the advice my colleague gave me that day in New York. I challenge you to act on it as I did. Be reckless with giving kindness. If you see something, say something!
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