I boarded a jet yesterday headed for the east coast.
As I boarded the plane I realized that I texted no one that I was leaving. My daughter knew I was gone because I asked her to water my plants.
But I was alone.
Alone as I sat on an airplane full of people. The stewardesses on the plane were of a foul mood. So when they came around with their worn cart of canned lukewarm drinks, I quietly rejected their offers sprite, water, and other banalities.
Putting on my sound canceling earphones, I bathed in the silence as I read a book on my Kindle. In the seats behind me, a couple had brought on a cat they forced under the middle seat that stank of its cat’s box. While loading the last of the passengers, a young woman came onboard with a large dog. I wondered where that dog was going to sit for the three hour flight and then if needed, where would it defecate?
After the engines of the plane started, the smells of the cat’s box died out. Rather than a United Airlines flight, it felt more like a bus in Tijuana. When I finally arrived at my hotel, it had been a long day.
Today was longer still. Discussions about our lack of a clear message and frustration abounding showed me how far our raft was adrift.
On the NJ Metro train into NYC, I had a short discussion with a fellow passenger. They were helpful to me in navigating my way. A short while later, this person talked on the phone, gossiping for the majority of the ride into the city. The lack of depth in this person was astonishing in its quality of shallowness. Listening to this, I looked to myself to see if I might also at times fulfill this role. Perhaps this just part of what we do as we scrabble around on the surface of this planet. Much like the German cockroach that I observed walking on the armrest of the seat where I sat, unconcerned and unafraid on the NJ Transit rail car upon which I rode.
Lunch was at an upscale place with a group of more interesting people. So many people in this city-state of New York City. I thought I might be uncomfortable being in the proximity of so many people, but instead, it felt like an adventure. A place and people with a culture all to themselves. Walking as much as we did, it literally felt like an obstacle course of people. Except walking in dress shoes, on concrete, in the heat.
Later that day, after meetings, much listening and talking, we went out for drinks. The food was good and the drinks better. Feeling the pleasant buzz of multiple Mojitos, we headed to Penn Station to catch the train home. Unfortunately, the train kept getting canceled. Sitting at a bar with our field CTO, I was pleasantly surprised. He was a great conversationalist and was quickly entertaining our end of the bar. Listening and talking, a part of me watched and absorbed everything. The conversations and dramas that played out in that microcosm. The story lines and new story arcs that developed that night were interesting, to say the least. The pain I detected underneath each of those people would have made it difficult to keep observing had I not imbibed myself in the warm and settling arms of a top shelf tequila. Slightly buzzed, I eventually made it to my temporary home of the Marriott in Woodbridge NJ. An adventure for another day and perhaps another further observational fuzzy set.
Flying home on a Friday, the week had been fruitful both in sales, developing further working relationships, learning, and thoughtfulness. Flying back, I felt a sense of withdrawal. The culture on the east coast so wildly differing from Texas. That being said, the people I met were overall friendly.
I was able to listen to and understand differing opinions from many people. Speaking with their dictionaries held before them, I many times asked for definitions. Standing on the hot sidewalk among the eight million people of New York City, I could see eight million dictionaries with not one being the same. Could this be the “Tower of Babel” that the Christian bible speaks of? My guess in that moment would have been yes.
So we spend these lifetimes trying to reach back across time to each other to understand. Most of us don’t fathom that we’re doing this at all. We just continue to fumble along as we transition through each part of our lives. The river that is “the most likely outcome” continues onward as we go through each grouped stage of our lives that come with a particular decade we are living in.
I see mine now, where I am. But I wonder what I will see ten or twenty years from now.