At this point in the story I’m lying flat in the aisle of Flight 1060 from Austin to JFK. I am now that lady who has an in-flight medical emergency so that no one can get a snack or use the bathroom. But this doesn’t occur to me until much later in the trip. For now, I concentrate on breathing deeply and answering questions about my physical state.
A new person shows up at my feet asking permission to help (she’s a nurse at Sloan Kettering). Kindness exudes from her every pore and I sense deep caring. I feel safer, even though, oddly, I haven’t been scared. Perhaps it is my ultra low blood pressure, but I feel curious and at once distant and present in the goings on.
I do know that I’m very cold. The young man to my left offers me his coat, “My mother’s name is Judy,” he says, beaming.
The nurse gives me choices. She seems to anticipate when I might be tempted to lie about how I am. I’m not tempted. In fact, I’m very clear about just how I am.
The crew and another nurse discuss me, over my head, across my body. But, nothing directed to me. I detect a slow leak of power. I’m simultaneously aware of how easy it is to miss or discount this subtle shift, and, how palpable the difference.
Adman’s hand doesn’t leave mine. I receive gifts of smiles and silent wishes from strangers around me. For these, I am beyond grateful. I sense unease further out into the plane; averted glances, desire to give me privacy, fear and even, distaste. None of this hurts, it just is.
While in Austin I got new glasses, but the prescription didn’t include this new lens through which I seem to be viewing the world. I’m seeing people’s stuff in high relief and simultaneously empathizing anew with it. I’m positive these strangers’ attempts to define me are inaccurate, and, I’m sure that I’m not who I was as an hour ago, either. The crack in my bubble lets in a whisper that I’m something else altogether. And, all this with an orange oxygen mask over my face.
Lest you think that I’ve become an advanced soul beyond ego, not a chance. I react big time to the callow flight attendant (clue to title of these posts) and had one more amazing experience before this flight was finally over.
Stay tuned for Part 3.
In the meantime, comments telling your experiences of new perspectives, cracks in your bubble, and the kindness of strangers would be wonderful.
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