Travel Musings

Travel Musings

Finding gratitude at the gate

By Aubrey Ann Parker
Current Editor

Editor’s Note: Apparently, I like to write things after/during visits to Chicago. It is becoming a theme here. Or maybe it is just travel writing, in general; I tend to see things with fresh eyes when I travel, as I assume most people do. To that end, you may remember that I published a rather lengthy piece in our first issue of the 2023 season about my trip to Chicago just before Thanksgiving to help out my friend who recently had twin babies, from whom I likely contracted COVID-19. (And if you do not remember seeing that essay, you can find it in our online archives.) Well, I randomly ended up driving  for about nine hours with that same friend and those same twin babies—though now larger and more mobile—to Chicago earlier this month, when she had a family emergency. I stayed for a few days to help out again, and I flew back on Tuesday, June 6. I also wrote this…

I missed my flight out of Chicago and back home to Traverse City; long story. I was pretty pissed and sitting around feeling sorry for myself while waiting at the gate for the next available flight, which doesn’t leave for three hours.
But then something sweet and small happened to bring me back to a place of gratitude, and I wanted to share, in case you needed some #goodnews today, too — I didn’t take a video, because I wanted to be present in that special, small moment, but I’ll share it in written form here.

Two little kids and their dad are sitting next to me at the gate. A pilot, probably in his 60s, approached them and asked Dad if it was OK to hand them each a pair of “wings” on a pin. He explained:

“Young lady and gentleman, we have a shortage of pilots in our industry. I want to give you both a pair of wings to encourage you to join us, when you’re old enough. Hopefully you have a good flight today and this helps with your wait.”

Then this grandfatherly pilot continued on his way.

“Now we’re both pilots,” Chloe said to her brother, Carter.

“First-class pilots!” he replied.

Take-away: Sure, life can get interrupted, and plans can change unexpectedly and cause an unwanted delay. And that sucks.

But usually, if you’re paying attention, life can show up very soon after in ways that restore our faith in humanity and our shared experience on this planet.

So thank you to that pilot, and to Chloe and Carter, for this valuable lesson that I didn’t know that I needed today.

Featured Photo Caption: Left: The author about to catch a train to the airport. Right: Children who made her smile and rethink her priorities. Photos by Aubrey Ann Parker.

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Aubrey Parker

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