Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Around the World on a Few Magical Phrases

As a privileged guest in over forty countries, I always try to pack basic foreign language skills. I’m not talking about investing in a Rosetta Stone course for a two-day jaunt, but rather the simple gesture of memorizing phrases such as: “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” that will seamlessly bridge a pathway to positive encounters. Best of all? There’s no need to stress over the precise pronunciation.

Case in point, on a recent journey through Poland to Hungary to Austria/Germany, I struggled less with my Polish and Hungarian (!) than I did with my German, where “thank you” stuck to the roof of my mouth before oscillating off my tongue in a tangle of incorrect vowels. On more than one occasion (I wish I could blame on Oktoberfest), I actually blurted out what sounded a whole lot like, “Thank you…Donkey,” leaving my husband to shield his red face.

We eventually queried our hotel receptionist in Vienna as to the degree of offense my mispronunciation might be causing. To my delight, he did not laugh, assuring me that no one would be the least bit insulted or confused by my efforts at gratitude.

So take it from the donkey lady herself, give the native language a gallant whirl and disregard any smirks or raised eyebrows (if only from your traveling companion). I promise your display of respect will supercede any enunciation gaffes…

The Power of a Song



It’s been said that love is the universal language, but I’ve endured moments of solitude — with love nowhere on the horizon — when a song set my heart afire.

Dismantling cultural barriers, music both unifies and liberates. Listeners may sway shoulder-to-shoulder to an identical tune, yet enjoy entirely different interpretations of how the lyrics punctuate their life stories.

I can be anywhere in the world when a familiar melody draws me so swiftly inside, I merely close my eyes and savor the nostalgia as I savor a trip down memory lane.

Who was I then?

What were my dreams and worries?

What composed my happiness and sorrows?

How did I arrive where I am today?

Could I have ever predicted it back then?

The timeless universality of a harmony stays fresh in ways that past loves cannot.

A captivating refrain.

A brief journey backward.

And I’m in the present once again, with a fleeting melancholy for those souls whose paths I was fortunate enough to cross — if only briefly.

Thank You Military Personnel

I was working a flight over Labor Day Weekend when one of our country’s finest came aboard. As flight attendants, we had three clues:

(1) His camouflage backpack.

(2) His humble attitude (he sat in the very last row).

(3) A fellow passenger who’d spoken with him in the gate area and couldn’t wait to tell us about our esteemed cargo, making certain we were aware he hadn’t been home from Afghanistan since Christmas!

He slept the duration of the flight, but upon landing our lead attendant announced that we had military personnel on board and could everyone kindly give him the courtesy of deplaning first? I’d heard about this respectful gesture being extended in various venues around our beautiful country, but until I stood at the front of that airplane and listened to the thunderous applause, while this brave defender of our freedoms marched up the aisle, high-fiving every passenger sitting on the aisle (with others reaching out as far as their limbs would allow — just to make contact), I had never experienced the magnitude of appreciation from my fellow citizens.

I am boundlessly grateful for the military men and women who keep us safe each and every day — and for those who take the time to acknowledge their service and sacrifice.

The Fear of Being Forgotten



From the moment you utter your first sentence, people want to know what you’re going to do with your life. You grow up doing your best to carve a respectable path and make those who raised you proud. Year after year, you carefully construct your life. And then, one day, you feel a prickle tingling up the base of your neck. Just as success begins to reward you with the faintest salute, a thought wiggles its way into your brain:  What legacy will you leave?

Why is the possibility of being forgotten such a deep-seated fear that it is an actual phobia (Athazagoraphobia)?

Choose me

Invite me

Call me

Befriend me

Hire me

Love me

Marry me                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 MISS ME

Like a drug — the need for continuous acknowledgment lures us into worlds we may not even wish to inhabit — because no one wants to be that overlooked person who causes others to scratch their heads and exclaim (with eyes glazing over), “I don’t think I recall him/her…”

So what will it be? A grandiose discovery or invention? A prosperous corporation? Champion of some life-altering cause? A fascinating work of art? A popular compilation of songs or books? Honorable service to your country?

Maybe not. Perhaps you will accomplish something that garners less notoriety but is equally significant. An incredible parent, mentor, teacher, coach, neighbor, preacher, spouse — friend??

I wonder who is more content in the end — the person who swung ruthlessly from ring to brass ring, trampling any obstruction along the way? Or the one, without all the plaques and accolades lining their walls, who served as an upstanding citizen and role model, trustworthy friend (no matter the hour), and tireless caregiver reaching out, time and again, with a reassuring smile to aid the wavering gait of another?

I Can’t Move the Sun



I overheard a young boy and his mother conversing on the airplane the other day. The sun was hitting the wing, shooting blinding rays through the small window and causing the little one to screech that he couldn’t see.

“I can’t move the sun,” his mother wearily replied.

Such an obvious observation, yet how many of us invest a significant chunk of precious life trying to alter that which cannot be changed?

The passenger sitting by the window politely closed the shade, which triggered more questions. Does turning a blind eye on our issues make for a lighter load or do we exasperate the burdens by sweeping them beneath an already bulky rug?

Are we defined by our personal heritage, with every fear and doubt ever planted by a parent/friend/lover/acquaintance building like a rip current throughout our cells, capable of dragging us beneath raging seas? Is it pompous to think we can sort through the contents of our hearts, discarding the painful parts at our leisure?

In my optimistic moments, I spy a lifeboat waiting to whisk me away from every last problem. At other times, I worry the past is inescapably entrenched in each of us — no different from the air we breathe, spilling without conscious thought onto the face of every new encounter.

Perhaps there is a middle ground. One where we pull the shade halfway, sparing ourselves the retina burn while still harnessing the sun’s energy, helping us move forward  — a little brighter each time.

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