Friday, May 22, 2015

Second Entry into Series: "Stories of People I Have Encountered"

One More Round

Last week I had the pleasure of flying four day trip with two lovely coworkers.  The man in his late forties, quiet with a kind voice, made everyone around him feel a little calmer.  He was in the army for ten years before working as a CSA in Fairbanks.  He met a woman on the job, a flight attendant which he actively pursued and married within six months.   They knew right away the way you can only know right away.  For a short time they lived a honeymoon life working and flying together before taking the big leap to have children.  Now they work completely separate schedules and might be home one night a week together.  It is for the kids.  He says it keeps things fresh. He carries a wallet size photo of his family with him at all times and pulls it out whenever they come up in conversation.  I saw him do this at least twice a day.  We had briefly worked together once or twice, but this was the first significant amount time we had spent together.  We worked in the back of the airplane together. 

The lady was up front in first class.  In her late fifties she could have passed for early 40s having taken good care of her body.  She doesn’t run but rather climbs on the treadmill and got fourth place in a body building competition when she was fifty.  She has barely any wrinkles on her face.  She used to commercial fish for 25 years in Alaska with her now ex-husband, the last of which they did together for the children even though their marriage had ended.  Her heart is light and she is just beginning to date again, after fifteen years devoted solely to motherhood.  This was my first time meeting her.

The three of us were starkly different.  I am a young mid-twenty with no family of my own and a pattering of life experience.   I have done a lot for my age.  I can be both loud and shy in one breath and while my life is coursing down a path, I often feel I have no direction.  I hoard all the newspapers the customers recycle and tear out the Crosswords and Sudoku’s.  I am happy to be left alone on the jumpseat filling in tiny squares on black and white paper while my coworkers lovingly tease me.

And so together the three of us worked a four day trip, flying up and down the west coast and throughout Alaska.  We got along swimmingly, each pulling their own weight, not asking too much of the others but stepping up to help as soon as they saw it was needed.  The work was relaxed and warm and we ended each day with energy to spare, a rare luxury.

The last night of our trip had us laying over in sunny Sitka, Alaska.  We landed in the afternoon and went our separate ways with loose plans to meet for drinks later, each unsure if the others would show.  The day passed, we wore ourselves out walking and running and exploring and when the hour to meet arrived so did we.

“I hardly ever go out with the crew” we whispered to each other.  “I usually just tell them I am going to work out and I’ll see them in the morning.”  “Me too.”  “Me too.”  “Let’s get another round of Makers Mark.”  “OK.” “OK.”

In this way the hours passed.  We talked about family, about God, about taking risks and making mistakes.  We heaped compliments on each other and at one crucial moment in the evening, a few drinks in, we all clasped hands and told each other how much we like and respect each other and how this has been one of the best crews yet.  It felt the way it does to deepen relationships and not just pass the time.  It felt like personal growth and community growth. 

They told me how impressed they were by me for my age and I listened with interest to their stories and their advice.  We went to our rooms a little dizzy but also a little more connected.  It wasn't anything incredibly special or deeply life changing.  And yet it was.  It was community.  I now know that there are two more people in the world who have my back.  I now know that there are two more people in the world that I will, in turn, be looking out for.  In the meantime, let’s have one more round with Mr. Mark.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Grains of Grace

It’s been a while since I have posted. It’s been a while since I have written. It’s been a while since I have felt, for lack of a better word, capable.
But I am lucky. I have a slew of people who believe in me. I have friends who are constantly encouraging and gently reminding me that I should get back to the proverbial table, that I have something to offer.

Some of my setbacks include a lack of time (who doesn't struggle with this?), lack of education (specifically devoted to writing), and lack of direction (but if you build it, won’t they come?). I've been reminded recently of three important facts. First, that sometimes the things I write will suck, but recognizing what sucks and what has potential means that I am progressing. Second, that writing is for me, and no one else. I am more stable and grounded when I take time to create. And Third, that I have a unique perspective, if only because it is mine alone and no one else’s, and that is reason enough to share it.

Even though I have been slacking there are a couple of ways in which I have not been failing. I joined a writing group. I get together once a month with a few new and dear friends. We share what we have written, we come up with prompts for next time, we drink wine and talk about life. It is hardest to grow when you are working at it alone. The perspectives of these ladies along with their own unique and personal work is encouraging and rewarding. I am lucky to be audience of their inner most thoughts and fortunate that mine are safe with them.

I have also been reading, selectively choosing authors with perspectives I admire and words that challenge. These works range from old poetry, to newer novels, to the blogs of friends. I must say the work I am most spurred on by are the authors who write about writing. The ones who remind me that it is a process, that their works did not unfold overnight, and that they, like me, had to start somewhere. I was lucky enough to travel with one such writer and friend who has a lovely blog that can be found here.

My last area of focus that has helped spur me on is the life I live every day. I have been working hard to listen to what it is people are saying when they speak and when they are silent. I have been traveling far and wide to witness different ways of life and to see the beauty we are lucky to be surrounded by. I have been making big decisions like who to date and who not to date, what car to buy and which shop to trust to fix it, what foods to put in my body and how often a week can I logistically expect myself to work out, should I wake up to an alarm in the morning or let myself sleep until my eyes open on their own. Every day holds countless decisions and every action holds at least one reaction. I am trying to be aware of them. I am trying to be aware of my life as it passes me by, this is tricky because life can be quick.

I don’t always succeed at what I attempt to do and I don’t always make the best decisions. I am not always the slowest to speak and sometimes the only thing to eat is pizza. In everything there is a grain of grace. In everything we can find the atoms that create our one and only life. It is so sweet to put it into words. It is sweeter still to have seen it in the first place.