Send your problems on vacation

Posted on 05. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

America is bleeding from serious economic wounds. Millions have no jobs and no prospects for finding one.

Many homes are under water and credit is maxed out. Families are cutting back and consumer spending is flat or headed south while our most productive companies are sitting on the sidelines and hoarding their cash, waiting to see what happens in the presidential election.

But worst of all, we’ve lost confidence in ourselves and have come to believe that goodness is as extinct as the Dodo Bird.

The good news news stories seem nowhere to be found, so it’s no surprise that there’s a heavy cloud of negativism hanging above us all, so heavy that it’s nearly impossible to see the tiniest sliver of a silver lining.

Last week, I had to pick up a passenger at the airport. Before taking the escalator up to the arrivals area, I passed a diorama with some locally-produced art, and since I was there early I decided to check it out.

Some of the pieces were whimsical and made me smile and also made me realize that there are still people out there who do something other than rail against politics and politicians!

Alone in my thoughts, I rode the escalator to the arrivals hall where hundreds of disembarked passengers were scurrying past me on their way to collect their luggage at the baggage claim below.

A few more steps past the restaurant and gift shops and my gaze narrowed as I searched the faces of the travelers moving at different speeds all around me.

Amid the clatter of luggage wheels I heard the gleeful laughter of children and saw people of all ages and backgrounds: men dressed in ranchers’ garb, teenagers in fashionably torn blue jeans and everything in between.

This was not the concentrated mass of humanity that characterizes mega-airports like Hartsfield, Kennedy or O’Hare. This was my airport where the tempo is slower and more personal and where the scenes of everyday life are played out at a pace that would make a New Yorker think he was living in a slow motion movie.

Then it hit me. I was thoroughly caught up in watching people connect with their loved ones as they ran, skipped or walked into each other’s embrace, planting wet kisses on cheeks and lips and even on bald heads!

Something wonderful happens when people let their guard down and this goes double for those times when they welcome a loved one home. All of us have seen the tearful reunions of servicemen and women as they burst through the arrival doors and explode with emotion as they catch a glimpse of their families after a long dangerous tour overseas.

I confess to lingering at the sidelines watching these human dramas play out. It took my mind off the mindless political advertising that was showing on TV monitors, creating what was easily the most bizarre contradiction of my week.

For those of us who are at our breaking point from all the ridiculousness of the political campaigns and are just about ready to take what Eskimos call, the long walk (a one-way trip on the ice floes), stop.

Instead, pack a lunch. Fire up the jalopy and drive to the airport and head up to the arrivals hall. Send your cares and woes on an extended vacation by watching real humanity in action. Then go home and hug your spouse or children or even your dog or cat like they’ve been away for a year. If that doesn’t change your outlook, nothing will.

- Editor


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