What waiting for a plane taught me about life

What waiting for a plane taught me about life

Finding beauty in airport time

Whenever I’m travelling somewhere by plane, my favourite part of the journey is ‘airport time’ – that time at an airport between security and actually boarding the plane.

Avoiding the shops and instead, picturing all the destinations shown on the departure board and people-watching while enjoying a hot tea is, for me, a perfect way to spend an hour or so.

Waiting for a flight from London to Denmark in spring 2019, my airport time was pleasantly interrupted by Fabio (name changed), a London-based Italian flying to northern Italy to see his father.

We found ourselves at neighbouring tables in a departure lounge café and he commented on how compact my laptop is.

We chatted about all sorts: the price of computers, photography, the hazards of skiing, the floating bridge at Italy’s Lake Iseo, creating beauty through pottery, neurological rehab, ravioli and how travel changes your mind.

I love interesting encounters like this. Fabio’s voice was loud, and I was about to discover why. If I had let his voice deter me from delving into our conversation I would have been much the poorer.

Fabio has lost his past.

A while ago he was seriously injured when he was knocked down by a bus, and he consequently needed extensive care for brain injury.

He has no memory of his life before the accident.

His ability to travel is limited for the moment, but he has a wonderful outlook – and joyfully declared that if you live in London you don’t need to go anywhere else! I’m not sure I entirely agree, but London is certainly a wonderful, diverse place. I hope that doesn’t change – not least for Fabio’s sake.

Fabio thanked me for chatting – although I think mine was the greater pleasure. He went to catch his plane and I to find mine.

As the cliché goes, you never know what’s round the corner or what will happen in the next five minutes. Meeting Fabio was a lasting reminder of that. Opening the shutters to let in the light and colours and hues of different life experience – and it’s myriad shades of meaning – has the power to teach us more than we could otherwise know.

My day was different for meeting Fabio. He reminded me to live each day well, to connect, to reach out to others, engage in conversation, to value friendship, to take care of ourselves and to count our many blessings.

This wonderful encounter started with a simple comment about my laptop. If you’ve had an unexpected conversation that has made a lasting impression on you, share your story here or leave a comment below.


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