We all filed into the boarding area like a bunch of cattle. Sky Priority members, passengers in zone 1, then zone 2 and so on. Like zombies, frequent fliers lined up behind elastic rope barriers lugging rolling bags and cumbersome carry-alls. Few people seemed to make eye contact with one another. Almost no one spoke a word. And a friendly smile? Forget about it!
Just another day at another major airport. Another round of wheels up and wheels back down. This routine has become so commonplace that fliers don't even seem to recognize that there are other people around. Or maybe they realize but they are just simply over being friendly to the faces of passengers they are likely to never see again. So paths cross with barely even a sideways glance at the person seated not even an inch away on a two hour flight.
What kind of world are we living in where this human disconnect is common practice? How did this ever become "the norm?" Am I the only one who sees a serious break in the basic tenants of common courtesy and human dignity?
As I stood with the rest of the human cattle awaiting my opportunity to get my coded boarding pass scanned, approving my right to board the Delta flight, I longed for human interaction with someone, anyone sharing this quick one hour flight. I looked around at the faces in line and tried to make eye contact but it seemed that no one was looking up long enough to even notice I existed or that I was glancing around, just smiling, begging for a friendly face in the crowd. Everyone had their heads in their phones, newspaper or just in the clouds as they starred ahead, eyes glazed over. It seemed to me that no one was looking for, giving out, or willing to receive a smiling face.
But I smiled anyway. I stood in that line and smiled like a fool because I wasn't about to let the frowns and comatose stares of my fellow passengers dampen my spirits. I decided to be the smile I longed to have shine in my direction. I decided to be that smile for someone else.
And do you want to know what? I felt better. I felt fulfilled and content not because someone smiled at me like I so desperately wanted but because I had decided to be my own smile.
I don't know if anyone else on that flight or in that boarding line saw my smile. I doubt they did. But the facial expressions of the other travelers didn't dampen spirit or diminish my own expression. I had made my decision to be a smiler. I was going to smile whether anyone else did or anyone else noticed. I was going to smile even if I looked a little goofy and giddy - which I'm sure I did. After all, what was there to smile about while waiting alone in a line that was moving at the pace of a snail?
On the surface there was not much to be excited about. But the flight, the line and the crowd weren't my cause for wearing a smile. I wanted to smile because I felt blessed. Blessed to have the freedom to travel. Blessed to have health that made this trip possible. Blessed to be up and about at six in the morning, embarking on a little journey. Simply blessed because God gave me the ability to smile! Blessed because God has filled my heart with an overwhelming joy that begs to be spread through the sharing of a smile.
It was for all these reasons and a million more that I couldn't help but smile this morning. Everyone else might have been stone faced, exuding a cold, hard exterior but God still put a smile in my heart, one that I couldn't keep from my lips.
Dear friend, in a world full of frowns, be the smile you wish to see. Don't let the discouraging faces of the strangers and fellow travelers in this world dampen the joy in your heart or the smile on your face. No matter what everyone else may be wearing, make sure you wear your smile. If for no other reason, wear your smile because God loves to see it. That's why He blessed you with the ability to wear joy so visibly, right on the face. Because He loves to see us smile, spreading His joy. And He wants the weary world to see it, too. So smile on, my fellow traveler, smile on!