Slow down and recognize the little big moments

Autumn travel season is here. I am in Haarlem, Netherlands these days, speaking at one of my favorite conferences.

On the way here, an old lady was sitting next to me on the plane. A typical grandmother (or great-grandmother) like lady, apparently feeling discomfort during the flight. She was nervous, maybe it was even her first time to fly.
I tried to talk to and comfort her as much as I could, but the only language she spoke was Romanian which I don’t speak at all. She also tried her best, communicated as much as possible, but I wouldn’t call it a real discussion. I didn’t even know if Schipol was her final destination or she traveled further.

Until we landed. After exiting the plane, she hesitated a bit and then stopped on the terminal, only a few steps away from our gate.

I stopped a little behind and started to watch her. She was looking around as if everything around us was a miracle. In her eyes, I could see both wonder and fear. She reminded me to my grandmother who died over twenty years ago. The old lady at the airport was lost — and beautiful.

I went to her and as soon as she recognized me from the plane, she instantly smiled. She showed me her next boarding pass: she was flying to Canada, but had no idea what to do at the airport, how to figure out which is her next gate and how to get there. I helped her to figure out the gate and walked her over to that terminal.

We didn’t speak a word at any language, but she showed me a picture of her grandchildren (great-grandchildren?) who I guess she’s about to visit. She was literally crying when I said goodbye to her at the terminal. She hold my hand and kept repeating a word in Romanian which I guess meant “thank you”.

It was such an emotional experience.

Sometimes these little things can make a huge difference in someone else’s day. And maybe in ours, too.

Raise your head and look around. What beauty can you see this moment? Can you do something to improve? Can you make someones day better? Let’s do that! Make wonder! Be the wonder in someone’s day!

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