Traveling is an amazing endeavor that I have been fortunate to indulge in quite a bit during my adult life.
As amazing as it can be, though, there is certainly an element of frustration that sneaks in, particularly now that I have more than a few flights under my belt.I know the rules of how to get through security, I can navigate one of the world’s busiest airports (ATL) with ease, and I know what to do when boarding an airplane.
For us frequent flyers, it’s hard to harken back to the times when all of this was new to us–to put ourselves in the place of people who are having trouble navigating everything from complex transportation to unfamiliar places and tight spaces.
We get frustrated at those who truly don’t know what they’re doing (even though there are signs everywhere and announcements all the time). And because of this, we can sometimes let that frustration overshadow our”better” and more well-mannered selves.
But I’ve taken on a new mantra over the last couple of years, inspired by a single sentence I read shortly before I embarked on a trip to Italy in 2012:
Love the one in front of you.
Of course, I can’t remember where I read it, but this “mantra” of sorts stuck with me because it takes the charge of “loving your neighbor as yourself” and makes it more bite-sized. And now when I travel, I can honestly stay that I repeat “Love the one in front of you…love the one in front of you…love the one in front of you…” in my head and aloud more times than I can count.
Heading into the holiday season where people who don’t fly frequently will be flooding the airports on their own journeys home, I thought it was as an appropriate time to re-share this mantra. Repeating this line is therapeutic and almost meditative, serving as a good reminder of at least one way that I can lean on my faith in my day-to-day life. It helps me to quell those negative thoughts and to not respond impulsively.
It is a call to think before I act and a step in the direction of living and breathing with more compassion. When I’m traveling, it reminds me to be kind, to offer help to those who look like they’re (literally) lost in my hometown airport, to help people get their bags if they had to stash them 5 rows behind where they’re sitting, to help clear the aisle if someone has a tight connection and needs to deplane asap.
But more than that, it’s a constant reminder that we are all deserving of love and respect, even when we aren’t being our most lovable selves.