This job has taken me many places, both in the physical and mental realms. I have seen diversity in cultures, in socioeconomic situations and personalities alike. However, in a journey that has seen incredible situations from around the world, I have never seen anything like last week in Dallas.
Upon leaving to the airport headed for Texas, I knew that there was plenty of news coming out of there due to the Ebola patient that infected his medical practitioners. As much as I encourage those around me to not watch the news, even I have moments of weakness where I hop onto CNN’s website to see what horribleness they slap on the page that day. Last week was of no exception to this macabre reputation.
To say that I saw fear and panic was an understatement, I saw absolute lunacy in the face of a situation that was most likely going to affect very very few. Nonetheless, the seed of fear had been planted in the back of my mind. Driving to the airport, I thought about what I would do different on this trip than what I do on all my other travels. Would I wear gloves, a mask, a class 4 bio suit? That little devil on my shoulder told me to embrace the chaos, to stand far away from anyone and not to engage with any person for my “safety.”
I got on my flight and wouldn’t you know it, a beautiful old lady from West Africa (Guinea) sat in the seat next to me. Part of me (the media based chaotic side) said, “maybe I should lean against the window and act like I’m sleeping.” However, I noticed that she was nervous to be flying. Now there is a choice that had to be made… let irrational fear control you and be silent or live logically and with compassion. It was a no brainer. I ended up talking to her for the duration of the flight, about her family, her culture, anything she wanted to chat about to keep her mind off flying.
Call it eccentric, but I feel that the moment we treat another person coldly for no apparent reason, we lose our humanity. There are some that will say that it was a risk. Yes, any conversation is a risk, life is a risk (trust me, I nearly spent the last month in a Chinese prison… something that I will talk about in time). But what is worse, going through life having been closed off to the world around over fear, or experiencing all that life has to offer with the very minor chance that something bad happens?
During my stay in Dallas, it was ever apparent of the elevated stress that existed in and around the city. I talked to cab drivers that had refused to pick up people because of their proximity to the hospital, I saw a man try to purchase his row of seats on the plane to guarantee no on sat near him. Fear had become the norm, and all logic had been lost.
Moral of the story… Embrace life, be it at any risk. Be the kindness to others that you need in your own life. Accept that your time is finite and learn as much as you can, about other people, cultures, existence. You will know yourself more as a result. Be passionately compassionate.
… oh, and stop watching the news