Must Be Something About Airports

Marking the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, we wanted to send a little bit of thought out there to challenge the way you may view others around you. We hope this story, written by our Creative Director Heidi, reminds you of the immense beauty that is all around us in EVERY human we meet. Some of us may be walking very difficult paths, some may have different values or ideas, some may dress in clothes outside our comfort closet, some may even be so broken emotionally we find it hard to see below to the beauty hidden beneath the scars, but WE are all human. Let's connect more, divide less, and never stop dreaming the impossible into the realm of possible.

Read on, and then get out there today and connect with others you might normally pass by.

Try this on...airports are a place where humanity actually thrives. I know, you are thinking "Have ya been there lately?!" Well, I am here now. Airport terminal, flight delayed, angry people, sticky chairs, and the cell phone outlet station is home to myself and seven others seeking that elusive charge, and yet...humanity thrives.

This terminal is alive with some of the most beautiful expressions of humanity, but do we take time to look?

I pass two children about age two. They are locked in embrace and swaying from side to side, smiles from ear to ear. At first I wonder if the two families know each other, then as I get closer, the two little girls smile and say goodbye. I hear one of the mothers say, "Well, that was fun to make new friends wasn't it? You never know who you can be friends with."

I had to stop the mother. She was just letting humanity happen, and it was perfect balm for my heart, the kind of moment that whispers there is a better way. Earlier in the week, I was at a restaurant when a little girl approached our booth. She stood there, nose even with the edge of the table, and she just smiled humming a little tune. Instantly her mother screamed to get away from others. And now, just days later I am watching two young humans shed the notion that we should stay away from others.

I asked this airport mother if she knew the other little girl her daughter was hugging. "No, she said, "Our kids just connected," and after a brief pause she added “like they are supposed to." Heart beaming I said "Little humans just let those barriers go." She smiled, “Isn't that so great?!" As I walked away I thanked her for letting humanity be the guide.

I see it again and again here. People just taking time to be, to rest, share a story, buy a book and a coffee, to engage in a conversation with the person next to them. People helping others. Watching out for one another as we navigate this thing called travel.

I see it from the curb to the luggage pick-up. Tears and genuine embraces as people part. People seeing each other off on journeys of all kinds. People at the ticket counter smile as you shuffle through your junk to find that boarding pass, asking where you are headed with more excitement than just the acquisition of knowledge. People waiting for planes begin to share what they "do" and then suddenly they are sharing about divorce, their aging parents, families, and challenges of all sorts. And we have all had that experience when the person next to you on the plane suddenly becomes someone you share your deepest fears and dreams with all in the course of a two hour flight and a complimentary beverage. Now, of course I see the worst of humanity too, but not as much as I see beauty.

Maybe in our need to get to wherever our "next" is, the delays force us to take a minute to see what is around us. Maybe it is being tired, hungry and smelly -- sticky tray table banging our knees, all while piled in seats that had to have been designed by elves, that all the nonsense is left behind and we decide there is nothing else to be but human. Or perhaps it really is in the idea that these humans are different. With these humans we have no past, and most likely no future either,  so we decide to embrace delays and gate changes and that small bag of peanuts and be real....human, exactly as we are supposed to be.

For centuries we did this. We lived in small tribes, ironically no larger than the amount of passengers on this airplane I am about to board, and we circled up around the fire and shared…we practiced being human. But over time we found ways to divide, we made the groups larger - from 100 or so to cities of millions, and that act of gathering to be human faded. We isolated, and at times we hardly practice being truly human in our own homes where our closest tribe members resided. I find it amazing that we lived in these small tribes for about 50,000 years and yet this idea of division and huge cities has only been our accepted way of living for no more than about 6,000 years. Even that depends on your definition of "city". As a race, we have way more practice living in smaller communities than we do conquering, dividing and living alone. We simply have forgotten how we once lived. Perhaps that is it, the whole reason airports and planes are different. Here we are, a small tribe, 30,000 feet in the air living together, even if it only is for 120 minutes or so, something inside us remembers and a strange comfort comes over our "normal senses".

So here comes The Authenticity Project challenge...Why only in Airports? Where else could we embrace the sticky surfaces and delays and just be human? Sit a little closer, share a beverage, and then sit back and enjoy the flight, wherever you are, actually enjoy.

The toughest part I have found with this word authenticity is the human part. For a species that spends so much time with others of the same species, we are awfully afraid of being who we are...human.

Deep in our ol' hearts, we know how we are supposed live, so let's get in there with all the authenticity and be human together. Let that incredible human, called you, experience. For there is no doubt that there is so much more to you and I than a two hour flight and a beverage in a plastic cup.

So what are ya doing later? What to take a quick flight and just be human?

Heidi Rickard is the Creative Director for The Authenticity Project, you can contact Heidi