Headphones September 30, 2014

Last week I was on an early morning flight trying to sleep and was awoken by the shrieks of a little boy, who looked to be about 5 years old. He was jumping in his seat and launching into the seat in front of him. His mom’s body posture was withdrawn and indifferent. Admittedly, I wished she would distract him into a quieter activity and silently gave thanks to God for giving me two girls.

Into the hushed space between the little guy’s shrieks, the young woman next to me yelled out, “He’s not a baby! You need to keep him under control!” The mother turned around and quickly and blankly glanced toward the young woman. Everyone stiffened.

I quietly asked if the young woman had headphones and she mumbled, “Good idea” and something about how the little boy needed to be quieter. She melted into her seat and her music and the little boy continued to bounce around.

A week later in an airport, an older woman brought her tablet into the gate area. She was watching a show without any headphones and the sounds of an inane game show filled the quiet gate area, breaking the 5 am silence contract the rest of the travelers had made with each other. I was debating how to gracefully change seats when a woman walked over and handed her a pair of headphones. Again, awkward silence.

These two events stuck in my soul. In both cases, my silent judgment was acted out by another. Though I was surprised by the exchanges, my internal eyes were forced to look in the mirror of my own tendency irritation and isolation rather than connection and compassion.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Yes. May that kindness rise from deep within you and me and spill out into the world.

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