Whenever I travel I feel insignificant. I see the people around me. They’re talking on phones about their problems, about their business, or just telling someone they’ve arrived and need to be picked up. They’re reading a book. They’re playing on a mobile device. Some are traveling for work, some for pleasure, or in my case, for the loss of a loved one. Each person is caught up in his or her own world. Someone cares about their problems, or business productivity, or even to pick them up from the airport. For whatever reason they are at the airport, or whatever they’re doing, someone cares.
But I don’t.
I don’t care about their problems. I don’t care about the business they are trying to conduct. And I certainly don’t care if someone is going to pick them up from the airport. It’s not that I don’t have compassion on people – I do. If someone sitting next to me starting talking about their problems, business, or even about who is picking him or her up from the airport, I’d enjoy that conversation. But it’s rare that that happens. And that’s the point.
To the hundreds of people surrounding me, I don’t care one little bit about what’s going on with them. Nor do they about me. I’m just another in the mass of people that they pass in an airport terminal. In fact, except for that awkward second when someone realizes that I’m staring at them, analyzing his or her life by the clothes worn, or type of device played with, or interactions with those around and I quickly divert my eyes elsewhere only to return and finish the analysis once he or she has carried on with whatever he or she was doing, they don’t even see me. And those that do, maybe for a fleeting moment they have a thought about me to the tune of, “That weird guy’s staring at me.”
But that’s it.
Everyone’s flight number is eventually called. Everyone lands home at some point. Everyone moves on. That weird guy staring at people is eventually not there any more. His flight number is called, too. Even on the occasion when I do strike up a conversation with someone and a twinge of care is started, I’ll likely never see that person again. They get off the plane and go home, or board another plane for a different final destination than mine. They go home to those people that care about them. Maybe even that person who cares about them is the one who picks them up from the airport. And more than likely, that weird guy will awkwardly lock eyes for a split second before they get a safe distance down the terminal.
And then it’s normal.
Before you know it, your loved one is picking you up at the airport. Embrace. Talk. Catching up. Love. It all returns. The weird and temporary world of being alone and the stress of sharing (or not sharing) with a stranger is over. Work or school, and the hustle and bustle of life resumes. Your personal space is no longer being violated…by strangers, at least. Someone needs you. And someone cares.
It turns out I am significant.