Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A lesson learned

I've just returned from Las Vegas for Beachbody Coach Summit. I'm a Beachbody coach but I also work part time for a friend who has a highly successful Beachbody business. I went to Summit as her worker-bee assistant, but also for fun and learning for myself. I had a great time, but man-oh-man, Vegas is weird and definitely lives up to it's reputation. I saw a LOT of things I wish I hadn't. Ha!

I had a realization on the flight home that I've been mulling over for a few days. It was one of those "aha" moments for me.

The flight we were on didn't have seat assignments. You choose your seat on the plane based on what's available when you board. By the time we boarded, all of the aisle seats and window seats were taken. So I found a middle seat between two guys that weren't too scary looking. Well, actually one looked normal and the other looked a bit like a thug, but the seat was close to the front so if I had to take a middle seat then at least I could exit the plane quickly after we landed. Strategy. 

Since it's kind of creepy to stare at your seatmates, I didn't. But the "thug" next to me had lots of piercings and tattoos and was dressed in mostly black (goth) and I was certain that the music he was listening to on his iPod was nothing at all like the music on mine. Judgement.

Usually on airplanes I do not enjoy talking to people. Which is the complete opposite of my personality. If you were to ask my children, they'd tell you (while rolling their eyes) that I talk to anyone and everyone all the time--in the grocery store, in the drive-thru, in parking lots, elevators, etc. I'd watched my boss on this trip talk to everyone around her and we joked about her making friends wherever she went, so I decided I should probably be a tad friendlier to my seatmates. It helped that the USA-Portugal soccer match was in it's final moments while we were boarding so that made for easy conversation since the whole Las Vegas airport was watching (and cheering)! We made small talk about the World Cup and then about football. They were impressed with my knowledge and my all-girls fantasy football league! I thought that our enjoyment of football was where our shared interests ended so I put my earbuds in and put some music on and felt like I'd done my best to be polite.

As we neared Denver, the "thug" next to me opened his window shade and peered out at the Rocky Mountains. And since you guys know I LOVE the mountains, I peered out too.

The strangest thing then happened. That "thug" got so excited and started pointing things out to me about the things he was seeing out the window--the mountain streams, the passes, the birds, the clouds. Everything. He was giddy about the beauty of the place we both call home. We then had the nicest conversation about hiking and 14ers and the stunning beauty of Colorado and how much we both love where we live. It was a sweet moment. I'm pretty sure I'm old enough to be his mother and I'm pretty sure his lifestyle is much different than mine but ya know what? We connected over beauty. It was so cool to find something in common with someone so outwardly different than me...and it was very moving to see his response to it.

So the thing I can't stop thinking about?
DO NOT PRE-JUDGE someone you haven't met. Be open to conversation. Be open to connection.
If I'd gone through my normal air travel routine I might have missed a moment of true beauty. We're all more alike than we realize sometimes. The guy I had labeled a thug turned out to be a really nice guy with a giant love of nature and people. And fyi, he talked my head off the rest of the flight. And I enjoyed it.

Lesson learned.


Jill said...

I have a really good guy friend that has arms full of tattoos, long hair, usually a beard, wears black military type pants and boots most of the time...and is also an accomplished artist, woodworker, a former military paramedic, a walking encyclopedia of literature, and an amazing cook. When we go out together we are quite a contrast / ying-yang but he's an amazing person. PS- I love tattoos on guys!

Elizabeth said...

I've learned that sometimes the person who seems the least likely to be someone I'd connect with ends up being the perfect person for that season of life.