Saturday, July 30, 2011

Consider Others

Airplane travel always seems to offer up something to endure. Though I am not a business traveler with frequent trips and upgradeable mileage benefits, I have endured plenty enough miles in the cattle sections of various air lines- slept on a nun, drooled on a few windows, sat pinned between enormous bodies, and have given up personal comfort for sleepy heads and feet. This trip offered up a large video screen at least ten rows forward which required plenty of neck stretching to view the inflight movie, however, children have to sit on a lap or stand pulling at the seat in front them. Midway through the flight a passenger kitty corner to me begins belting out tunes. It penetrates my noise canceling headphones, interrupting All Creatures Great and Small as I try to focus on the narrator's unfamiliar British accent. Turning slightly to my left, I look behind me to verify that a real person would consider this appropriate behavior on an airplane. It seems slightly shocking. The singing continues unabated and loud. My son, on the verge of sleep, arises and looks around saying nothing. I turn and say, "There are people trying to sleep. Could you please stop singing." She ignores me and continues.

On an airplane headed toward America, I am reminded that self-indulgent behavior is not unusual. The left side of the plane is dark. The right side of the plane is awash in sunlight. Eight rows of window shades are open. There are over forty seats saturated with a harsh brightness. My fellow passengers's desire to see the view seems selfish and greatly lacking in consideration. I travel with eye shades, a hoodie, and a scarf for these moments. The airline stewardesses do not enforce any social considerations. No, they blankly hand out the chicken or beef and remind us that they are here for "our safety." I am feeling an eye roll.

I had been thinking of compassion earlier; specifically the idea that we should meet each other with compassion in our hearts. My compassion apparently can't even work itself up to merely tolerating rudeness. As usual, I have a long way to go. That pleasant half smile that the Buddhist recommend, would be a start.