Meg Noble Peterson

Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia

THE UPSIDE OF TRAVEL

Complaints! Complaints! Complaints! That’s all we seem to hear about travel these days. No longer the rush of excitement as the plane revs up before lifting off and heading for 30,000 feet, or the cloud banks stretching below like cotton batting blanketing the earth, or the deserted mountain ranges that conjure up the beginning of time.

It’s just constant bellyaching  about long security lines, too many people, invasive searches, and delayed flights. And I was right there with everyone else in the Seattle airport in a line that seemed to stretch all the way to Tacoma, when I began to notice little acts of love and kindness that are also a part of the mix…

A grandfather calling his little grandson over for a final hug (“Aren’t  they wonderful?” he said as he saw me smiling. “Oh, yes they are!”), a security person who apologized after the third pat down (could my body lotion have set off an alarm?) and a waitress in a bar, where I had asked for water because I couldn’t find a fountain. She directed me to a fountain but it was too far, and my plane was boarding. As I stood in line, she rushed over with a giant cup of water and a straw and said, “M’am, you forgot your water.” “You are an angel,” I said. She had been concerned and chased me down. How sweet was that!

During the flight I was sitting next to two loquacious ladies who were unaware that I had gotten up at 3:30 AM to make my airport shuttle and desperately needed my sleep. An hour into the flight they were still talking. Sleep was impossible. I made my way to the steward’s station and explained my predicament, asking if any single seat was available. Eureka! An aisle seat was found next to two sleeping passengers. The remainder of the trip was spent in heavenly silence.

One last gesture of kindness came my way as I was trudging between gates in Philadelphia, hurrying to make a close connection. A gentleman in a motorized cart stopped and offered me a ride, taking me what seemed like 2 miles to my gate, and waving any gratuity. Just being kind. It seemed to please him and it sure pleased me!

This is what I took away from my cross country flight from Seattle to Manchester, New Hampshire. And now, as I sit on the dock looking out at the islands and enjoying the serenity of Lake Winnipesaukee, I temper my upset at the turmoil and incivility rampant in my country, and think of those little kindnesses that jumped out at me when I least expected them. And I am filled with appreciation and hope.

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5 Comments

  1. You are a master at finding the beautiful in life and placing yourself right in the center of it all. How lovely these pictures are – now that I am out of the hospital I feel such a desire to find myself near scenes such as the ones you are displaying. I’ve been given a second chance and I hope I can put it to good use. Love you, Jackie

  2. Sandie Miller

    David and I just spent 10 days in Seattle and surrounding area. Our first trip there. Beautiful.

  3. Yana

    Thanks, Meg for the reminder to notice, appreciate and yes, pay forward those small acts of courtesy and kindness. That is what really makes our human world go ’round in the way we want to live in it.

  4. Kitty Madden kittynewmoon@gmail.com

    thanks, Meg, for this wonderful reminder to watch for those precious moments of kindness when traveliing….. I am a good friend of Anne and Frank, having met Frank when he was a part of the Veterans for Peace group observing the 1990 elections here in northern Nicaragua. I have also had the delight of staying some days with them at your cabin on lovely Lake Winnipesaukee so your fotos brought back some great memories.
    It was also nice being able to visit them in June in Peterborough and, as I will be traveling to Nepal on a pilgrimage in October, they shared your book and suggested I sign on to your wonderful blog..
    Anne and Frank have been wonderful supporters of our work here in the Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman…. am sharing here our website if you might be interested www,casamaterna.org

  5. Alisa Skinner

    Always appreciate reminders that life lives in the now….and the now….. and the…….
    Thank you.

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