Happy Trails

My almost-one-year-old daughter is on a mission to wrap everyone around her little finger. We are twelve hours into a fourteen hour travel day and we are boarding our last flight. I know my fellow passengers are not thrilled to see a baby lining up for their evening trip. Stroller stowed, I’m lugging my daughter down the tight aisle, waiting impatiently for the crowd in front of us to shove their carry-ons overhead, bouncing to keep her content. As I grimly swap her from hip to hip, she catches the eye of a woman across the way, her eyes go wide, she holds up her little fingers and says “H-i!” as if she is greeting her best friend after a long, heartbreaking absence. The stranger melts right there in front of us. My little diplomat then repeats this greeting to everyone she can beguile. By the time we get to our seat, every passenger on the plane is our friend, fawning over her for the rest of the flight.

My online signature quotes “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” And most days I succeed at remembering to treat people as such. I know that chronic pain has given me a unique perspective on personal battles, one I should use in all of my daily interactions. However, had anyone given me a reason to, I would have turned bitchy fast on that last flight of a very long day. It was amazing to see how quickly road-tired people warmed to the genuine greeting of a baby, inspiring even. To be seen by anyone, really seen, can make every difference in the world.

In honor of my miracle girl’s first birthday this month, take a minute or two to see and sincerely greet each other. Forget your pain, recognize the struggle and strength of the people around you. I promise, it will make your trip all the sweeter.

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