Sometimes, I wonder about the little things. Sometimes, I worry about the little things. Recently, I had a travel experience that encompassed both wonder and worry. Let's start with the worry. Does that sound familiar? Did you ever do the "I've got some good news for you and some bad news. Which do you want first?" When I was a principal in Florida, I read a book to the staff called "That's Good! That's Bad!" by Margery Cuyler and David Catrow. We talked about how almost every piece of news we get could have a first impression but if we consider it a bit longer, their might be other implications that are maybe not the same. Good lesson for our students, too. Check it out!
So, back to my worry. I was on a flight that would be connecting in a large city. I didn't have much time for the connection so let's just say I was ready to take off. Unfortunately, the plane was not. Well, the plane was fine but the pilot announced that the runway we were going to be using had over 20 (yep! I didn't mistype that) aircraft lined up to take off on it, and it was going to be awhile. An audible frustrated sigh emitted from most every passenger in my neck of the woods.
But sitting next to me were a dad and an eleven-year-old girl (we ended up talking quite a bit, so I'm not just making up her age). The girl had never flown before. First flight. Do you remember yours? I do mine. It was on Southwest Airlines from Houston to San Antonio (to call that a short flight would be a massive understatement) and I was so excited about taking off, I could hardly stand it.
So there we were, waiting for the rush hour of aircraft to dissipate, while all this time the sweet girl is sitting wide-eyed, staring out the window in awe. She kept asking her dad questions. We had some time, so the three of us began talking as well. She was fascinated by the idea of flying as often as I do (that's good), and I didn't want to burst her bubble by telling her the dew comes off the flying rose fairly quickly (that's bad). See how the book works?
So, while everyone else is frustrated with the late take-off (one gentleman even said aloud, "F*** this; why can't we just go??") That's bad, in case you are wondering, particularly since he did not say "Fancy this" and remember, we are all sitting near this sweet girl who has never flown before. Furthermore, what is Fancy Guy thinking we should do---cut in line??
The pilot finally comes back on and says, "The bad news is we are still 20 deep to get to this runway. The good news is they are allowing our plane to head to another runway to take off in a different direction. We are taking it!" (I assume he must have read the children's book, as well!) ;)
We were all thrilled to hear this, but all I could think was: While everyone else is so frustrated with the late take-off, this 11-year old "newbie" is wide-eyed and smiling from ear to ear.
Once we started taxiing the other way, she asked, "How long will we taxi?" "Does it feel funny when you first go up in the air?" "Will it start going faster and faster when we taxi?" She'd ask her dad then she'd ask me. I loved it!! I told her it was the sort of experience you can't explain but she would talk about it for days and weeks to come.
The look on her face when we took off was priceless! Other people breathed a sigh of relief (we were finally on our way, after all), but that sweet 11-year old was breathless and still grinning and giggling. Once we were in the air, she asked her dad if she could take pictures of the clouds.
All this reminded me of one of the stories from Randy Pausch's book "The Last Lecture". He used to work at Disney before he became a professor at Carnegie-Melon University and later passed away from cancer. He said the Disney workers would always get asked, "What time does the park close?" The employees were taught to NOT say, "The park closes at 10 p.m." but instead say "The park will remain open all day until 10 p.m. tonight!" I love that! Same premise, different words. One is "That's bad" and one is "That's good".
And between a first time flight and a trip to Disney, it's about the wonder of it all, right?
Just for today, perhaps we can find the wonder in all we do!