A few weeks ago, I needed to catch a flight, so I planned to be at the airport an hour before take-off. The problem was that I didn’t give myself any buffer time, and honestly, I never do. I am always running late, so the people that travel with me are accustomed to it not being a stress-free experience.
Even though Atlanta is known for its traffic, I somehow forget about this on travel days. To make it to the airport, I weave through cars, driving too fast through construction zones, and do my best to avoid the slowest lanes of traffic. When I finally make it to the airport, I realize that I haven’t factored in the extra time to park my car. I screech into the first open parking lot, keeping my eyes peeled for an available space, chase down the Park ‘n’ Ride bus, and tap my foot as the bus crawls toward the arrivals drop-off. As the bus pulls up, I see the baggage check line growing and know that I’ll have to wait. Inevitably, from baggage check, I run through the airport like a crazy person to get through security and to my gate before the final boarding call. I feel like I’m in the Home Alone airport scene, sprinting with my carry-on, dodging families with strollers, and completely frustrated by anyone walking at a normal speed through the terminal.
This particular travel day was no different. After checking my bag, I ran to the first security checkpoint only to find a family blocking the entrance of the security line. My initial reaction was frustration. Why are they just standing there? But then, I noticed two of them were locked in a hug. There were tears rolling down their faces, and the other family members looked on with glossy eyes. It was a powerful moment that stopped me in my tracks.
I don’t know their story. Maybe somebody was traveling far away, and the family wouldn’t see them for a while. Maybe one of the people in the embrace received a grim diagnosis, and this could be one of their final moments together. Maybe someone is being deployed, and their future is uncertain.
I’m not sure of all the details, but they knew something about their situation that caused them to treat that goodbye with a weight and intentionality that is uncommon in most of our interactions. When we know a moment is going to change our lives, we treat it differently. We say a longer goodbye. We’re invest in the important day at work. We celebrate the milestones in our child’s life. And we should. We don’t get the opportunity to treat every single day and every interaction like it will change our lives. There are some days that we know are important. However, many of the most important moments sneak up on us.
Witnessing this powerful interaction in the airport was a wake-up call for me. I don’t want to be so busy that I miss the moments that need my attention. Typically, I text my wife Laura before my plane takes off. I tell her that I love her and will let her know when I make it to my destination. But this day, I texted a few more people, letting them know how much they mean to me.
I don’t want to be so busy that I miss the moments that need my attention. @KevinPaulScott
Instead of racing through life like my typical travel experiences, I am trying to slow down. It’s not easy, but it’s something I must continue to work toward.
Don’t you think we all should try to slow down? If we open our eyes to opportunities to connect with people, we are less likely to miss out on the meaningful moments, especially the ones we didn’t expect to be meaningful.