There was a time last year — just prior to TEDxBoulder, actually — where I was on the road for 22 days straight. I had 72 hours in my own bed and was then off again for 4 days in New York City.
This month isn’t much different.
No matter how much you like George Clooney, the “Up in the Air” lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When you’re always in the air, the living side of life is pretty hard to fit in. I eat like shit, I don’t work out, my sleep is jacked, and all I can do is stare at my suitcase with disdain. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu and your little spinner wheels.
Yesterday evening, I was on a plane back from a great 36 hours in Oklahoma City. I got to see my sister and niece, the man who makes both of them laugh, and met a ton of amazing folks at the event I spoke at for the OKC American Marketing Association. I even found a darling little shop down the way from the venue called Urbane. They carry these fabulous little cards. Rest assured, I will be handing them out as the need arises.
When I was finally wheels on the ground in Denver, all I could think was that I would be back at the airport in less than 12 hours for my next flight. I may or may not be writing this post from one of Southwest’s snazzy laptop stations in Terminal C. But I digress.
I just wanted to go home.
So I fell into the routine.
Grab the roller bag out of the overhead bin.
Deal with the metric asswipe in the row behind me who wants to muscle past me to disembark.
Thank the flight attendants (always).
Inadvertently avoid eye contact with anyone in the terminal, on the moving sidewalk, and on the terminal train back to baggage claim.
Pour out the train doors and queue up to feed up an escalator like grain going into life’s transportation silo.
Home. I was going home.
And then I saw her. And him.
They were locked to one another in the most amazing hug, nearly entangled in the woven partition that keeps guest away from travelers exiting the escalator. And it wasn’t that hug. You know – the cursory one we’ve all given or received where we can’t wait for it to be over.
It was a hug that, had they been asked, I’d bet they’d say they never wanted it to end.
Maybe it was father and daughter. Two friends. They certainly weren’t lovers, but it was inarguably love.
And I forgot about going home. I tried not to stare. I got a bit misty and moved my ass out of their sight before they sensed someone staring at their unabashed, inclusive yet exclusive, seemingly never-ending embrace.
Because who stares at stuff like that? I guess the answer is me.
Every one of you interacts with me digitally. Through keywords big and small, words short and lengthy. But it’s rare I get to stand in front of people and see a life changed, and right before my eyes.
And this — this is why the “up in the air” routine bothers me less than it probably should.
For all of the sleep lost, puppycats missed, neatly-made beds slept in, TSA feel-ups (Every. fucking. time. I’m beginning to feel profiled.), and plane boarding and disembarking shenanigans…
I feel the most when I’m within arm’s distance of people.
That’s when I feel the best.
And wouldn’t life be better if we all picked up our gazes and looked for those we could connect with instead of retreating to these digital caves that seem to power our day-to-day?
Because that’s how we create the stuff in life worth staring at.
Last night, I realized in an even greater way why it is I do what I do.
To help others become a better version of themselves — that’s why I do what I do.
The speaking. One-on-one sessions. Teaching. Writing. They’re all the ways I connect with people outside of my little digital cave. And while you might love something I write and it has an impact on you, that’s not where my life gets better.
I become that next better version of myself when you reach out and hug me. With your words. Your stories. How anything I have to say relates to your life and changed the way your thought, loved, shared, or did business.
I become my best when you wrap your arms around me.
So, yeah — I’m back at the airport, ready to board another plane. And while I’ll never know the story behind two random strangers entangled in the hug of a lifetime, I’m heading up in the air to head to a place where people await to help me become that next better version of myself.
Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to have one of them say I helped him do the same thing.
It’a amazing what happens, isn’t it, when you pull your head out of your ass for even a moment? You can realize the journey that drains you is the one that really feeds you.
Happy “Fuck Yeah, Friday”.