Today was a plane day. Her heart was heavy to leave this city she loved, the old friends she missed and the new ones she made. While at the airport, she was reminiscing about the week that just past and what reflection it had brought to her mind and change to her soul. She was traveling alone and sat in a full plane, next to the window, where the space for her little body was wide, but not before she had to ask a gentleman to switch seats for seating in her assigned one.
In her row were two men, who didn’t seem to know each other. One looked older and seemed to be ready to devour a novel even before the plane departed, so absorbed he was by its cover. The other was young and captivated by what he could see while glimpsing at the window. The sun was setting and the colors in the sky reminded of the shimmering ones of a distant galaxy.
“Wow! That looks beautiful!” he said softly. “I’m sorry?” she asked, not sure she heard the words he was articulating. He smiled and repeated his sentence as if he was talking directly at her.
Their conversation started then and lasted for 5 hours, until they landed.
At the beginning, I don’t think either one knew this conversation was going to be so rich that it would instill change within themselves.
He lived close to Napa, owned 6 acres of land, had an orchard, cows, chicken, and was using the land to plant vegetables and vines. He had several second hand tractors, which he repaired on his own, and had a dream of being completely self sufficient with his farm and eventually increase its acreage ample enough to produce a vineyard. This was his second time ever on a plane, which he took to go to New York. His first time was back in February, when he went to his best friend’s wedding and had a chance encounter with his current girlfriend, whom he was visiting now. You could tell he loved her, and already had a vision for her in his life. He was waiting for her to finish school, so he could marry her and bring her to his farm close to Napa, where she would serve as his support, ought to take care of him, the house and their future kids, but he didn’t want her to work at all.
The girl on the plane was a little shocked, as she was a city girl and could never imagine living a life at home. She learned a lot from this conversation, about who she was and wanted to be, but also about how much her level of tolerance and acceptance of other beings had increased with time. She saw her life as complicated, was told by her friends that she was a busy woman, very independent and threatening for some. She never viewed herself that way though, and thought that maybe her dream life might seem a little unconventional for some, but in her head, she thought it was a perfectly normal one, already in place and lived by different people on this planet, and this conversation, in her mind, made it even more valuable.
As he was speaking about his life, their conversation changed and ran a little deeper. They started to talk about spirituality and the minute she shared with this man that she was Jewish, his mouth dropped. She was not really surprised by his reaction, as she had witnessed so many similar instances in the past. He seemed to be happy about this encounter though, because he had never met a Jew in his life, let alone having the opportunity of speaking with one about spiritual beliefs. They talked about the idea of God, about evolution, about science, and about Quantum theory, then, started sharing more personal details about their lives. He liked her ideas about family and how both parties in a couple need to be the back bone of each other, both equally supportive of each other, and not there to ‘serve’ one another. She told him that for a couple to work, both parties needed to receive something from the union and feel they are equally contributing to the world. Even if he didn’t see his life that way he listened, but didn’t believe than an ‘independent’ woman could be a good role model for children. She took his life and dreams as an example and asked if she had shared his views with his new girlfriend, whom he wanted to make his wife. He said she knew everything about him and accepted him for who he was. To which she said it was amazing, but asked: “And what about you? Do you accept her for who she is?”
She was going to culinary school in the East and ready to move West with him to embrace a farmer’s life, but what about her passion for food? To which he answered: “Well, she’s gonna cook for me and the family!”
Thinking this was never going to be enough, she then stopped and thought. Who was she to emit any opinion on what this woman wanted or not. She herself knew, that even if people saw her values and opinions as being strong and full of certainty, deep down, when she’d meet the right man who would respect her being, trust her character, and would help her overcome her fear of abandonment, she would throw her certainties to the side to focus on her couple. She asked him if she could share her selfish vision for their couple, according to what he had shared with her. He thought this request to be funny and wanted to hear more.
And here it went:
“There is this farm close to Napa, a farm with a lot of potential. A solitary man, who dreams to find his equal. One day he travels, and finds his bride to be. She leaves her family for him, goes West and starts a family. As the family grows, so does the farm, which becomes a vineyard, and the bride never looses her passion for food, to the point of creating a restaurant and an amazing lodge, where you go to taste succulent food and wine created by this loving couple.”
His eyes open wide, he exclaims: “I never thought she could be doing that! In my eyes, she had to give up all those silly dreams so she could focus on helping me take care of the farm! Wow! I actually don’t know what she wants to do. I don’t know why she wants to finish school. I don’t know what her dreams are, and I never thought they were important to be honest. I thought we needed to not focus on that at all, so she didn’t feel too bad about coming West with me.”
So the girl from the plane just told him, that this was her story for them, how she viewed it with what he had shared, but that they could create millions of other stories together, where both of them could be equal partners and didn’t have to give up on anything about what they wanted to bring to this world to be together. And suddenly he uttered: “But why are you still single if you want a family so bad? You sound like such a caring person!”
“I don’t know”, she murmured.
Hearing those words felt like a knife going through her heart. She heard them so many times before and to her they were an acknowledgement of her flaws, her inadequacies, her fear of commitment, fear of abandonment. She really just wanted a simple life. She wanted to write, to create things that would touch people, make them ponder about various topics, challenge them, make them dream, and feel better about who they were. She wanted a family life, where two people were part of a nucleus together, that nothing could shatter. She believed in eternal love, even if the current society where she lived did not. She was a strong and open minded woman, too independent for some standards, but in her heart she felt she was somewhat old fashioned. She didn’t feel any different from any other being on this earth, her problem was in herself and not in her environment.
He asked her if she was scared of men, if she hated them all.
But men were not her issue in any way. Her fears lay within herself and stemmed from her childhood, like so many people before her. She just needed to bypass them, which she didn’t seem to be able to do. She told him that her time hadn’t come yet, that she wanted to be with the men who didn’t want to be with her and didn’t want the men who did. She had hope though she said. She felt that she was slowly moving into a new vortex, and proof was in the last man she encountered, who slowly seemed to change her and make her a better being. “And you think you are changing him, right?” He asked. “Not really.” She answered. “I’m not really looking to change him. I just want to be there for him, because he’s there for me.” “You know, change needs to come from inside of you. You can’t really force anyone to want something they don’t want.” He said. But she already knew all of that, and at that moment, she felt he might be talking about him and his process. And so he added: “I’m going to share something with you, because I’m never going to see you anymore. I’m 24, I was married once. I have two small children with my first wife whom I don’t see anymore, because you know what? I messed up. I was a different person then, and I realize what is important in life now. I used to be a drug dealer, was arrested, and went to prison for one year. There, I saw old men, who kept going in and out of prison and it just hit me. I don’t want that life. I have too much potential, and that is what made me turn my life around.” At the sound of these words, her mouth dropped. She was sitting next to a criminal, in a plane, alone, and she started to panic inside. As his words continued to come out of his mouth, her feeling of anxiety and judgment increased. She decided to go to the bathroom, and the only thing she was thinking about while there was her pocketbook, which stayed under her seat.
When she came back, she did check her pocketbook, and it was untouched. She then realized how close minded she was. What would this man have done inside a plane? Steal her pocketbook? Run out of the plane? Where was her compassion she was so proud of thinking she was full of? Will she let her fear of what this man had done erase the rich conversation they had prior to him revealing his ‘secret’? Will this revelation completely close the door of their talk until the end of the flight? What was she scared of? He sold illegal drugs, she never consumed any. He went to prison, she was never arrested. Would she prefer to completely shut down, or take this opportunity to learn from this man, who was at the opposite of the life she has lived? She decided to calm her fears and shared with him, what she felt about what he had revealed to her. First she thanked him for talking about such a delicate subject and for revealing himself to her. Then, she shared her negative judgment, her sudden fear of him, and what she thought about him breaking the law. He thanked her for being so honest and was completely surprised about everything she told him. In a sense, this was refreshing and liberating for both of them, and until the end of the flight, she freely asked questions about his past life, his prison experience, his life transformation since he came out, and the young people with past lives similar to his he was guiding for the past few years of his existence.
And with openness, tolerance, compassion and curiosity, these two individuals changed each other’s lives for the better in 5 hours time.