Early last Wednesday morning, I boarded a flight to the east coast. After take off I settled in to do a bit of reading. I’m not one to sleep on planes so if I’m up early, then I’m up. I might need a nap later or I might crash earlier than usual but I’m not one who usually falls back to sleep after getting up. Guess I’ve become a morning person through and through. I blame the the fur babies, the early morning running sessions, the fact that having a cup of coffee when the sun comes up is heavenly…
So, anyways, on my flight to the east coast I sat across the aisle an older man who was probably in his late 70’s or early 80’s. He too was busy reading and we sat reading in companionable silence while the rest of the plane slept. Several hours passed and I was making great progress the books I was reading. Yep, I’ve turned into one of those readers who reads multiple books at a time. I never used to be able to but now, it’s like a drug. Anyway, the man tried reachin down to grab his briefcase from under the seat in front of him. He seemed to struggle so I unbuckled my seat belt and grab it for him. He thanked me and we shared a few words on the morning, the flight, and our respective readings. He was on his way to Yale to give a lecture on Galileo.
Our conversation set my mind on fire with thoughts, not just about Galileo (I haven’t read anything outside of college about Galileo, or Da Vinci for that matter) but about the impact that we have on those around us. For, you see, this complete stranger impacted me whether he knew it or not. I spent the next couple of days in Providence thinking about my lack of knowledge on the subject of Galileo. Obviously, this is going on my reading/audio book list. But, I was also blown away over this mans ability to read Latin. It’s the basis of so much of our modern language yet, I am completely lacking in my understanding of it. Plus, his simple comment of going to Yale to speak about something he has studied for years left me in awe. Suffice it to say, I was impressed.
A couple days later on Friday evening, I board a plane for my return flight home to LA, and you’ll never guess who was seated behind me. The same man! His lecture at Yale went well and he’s looking forward to other speaking engagements. He returned to pouring over his books and I to my reading (The Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes, The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, and 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days — and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance by Dean Karnazes) while the majority of the people on the plane slept. Besides our lights there were only two others on in the entire cabin. While I sat, semi curled up in my seat, reading I kept and pausing to think, question, and reflect. I even started this post while on the plane.
If there is one thing that has truly left an impression on me in the last week, it is the gentleman plugging along on his journey. It’s his insatiable thirst for knowledge. His drive to keep at it in the wee hours of the morning and long after everyone else is asleep. He pushes on.
I feel I can relate to him on some level, for I too, am a person enjoys the learning process, who desires knowledge, who can become consumed by certain things. Currently, I have questions and thoughts swirling around my head that pertain to burnout, work that brings joy and purpose, sustainable textiles, preventing future damage to our environment, authorship, inspiring others to explore the world, hiking, running, physical challenges, cooking and recipes, the inter-connectivity of things, to name a few. Unlike the man on the plane, I do not seem to have the ability to focus on just one thing, but then again, he too may have been contemplating Galileo’s theories and how they connect to our current place among the stars.
I feel inspire to keep pushing on. To keep seeking knowledge, questioning, pushing boundaries, learning, trying new things, and taking long walks or runs to clear my head. To keep on keepin’ on.