#TBT | When Worlds Collide…

July 25, 2012

In this busy world with people moving to and fro – we’re bound to bump into each other.

In fact, on Saturday, I literally bumped into a woman in the airport who tripped over my bag.

She admitted she was looking up, and I admitted I was looking straight ahead – both of us had our minds in our own world. We apologize to each other and kept it moving.

Later, during the beverage service on my flight, I found that same woman sitting in the window seat – this was a chance encounter if ever there was, I thought.  She was surprised I remembered her, but I couldn’t forget her.
I realized this was a portent for me.

When she asked to purchase wine, I went to the First-Class cabin, told the Purser the story, and asked if I could offer a complimentary glass of wine to our guest.

“All’s well that ends well.”

Until my second collision of the day, that is, when a woman on my flight expected me to put her carry-on in the overhead bin.

I repeated, to her, our airline’s policy of flight attendants not lifting bags. But, then, since other flight attendants, for whatever reason, have helped her in the past – she pointed an accusatory finger at me – stating that I and I alone refuse to lift bags into the overhead bin.

In that instance, she was right because although it’s a company-wide policy and flight attendants can do it at their own peril —

I choose not to.

Wait, that’s not entirely true. I have lifted bags into the overhead bins for our very elderly passengers. I’ve also attempted to assist a passenger whose body was, for lack of a better word – “broken,” but she told me in no uncertain terms to back off – she could do it her dayumself.

(OK, she didn’t use a cuss word, but that’s what I received.)

So, the woman was right; it was my choice.  Further, I think it was her
sense of entitlement that irked me a bit. She told the man who was willing to assist her:

“No, she’ll do it.”

And then she summoned me over.  I walked over, ready to assist her (meaning lending a helping hand), and it was then I could see she was missing an arm.

In the end, she hoisted the bag over her head, and it landed directly in the overhead bin with great precision.

We collided on Saturday, and by Tuesday, I was still thinking about the encounter. Finally, on Wednesday, I was driven to write about it.

I’ve seen many able-bodied people acting as if they are disabled; I see disabled people living life as able-bodied people –some physically challenged people even live lives as super-bodied.

Meet Matt Stutzman

Case-in-point:  Have you seen Matt Stutzman, an arm-less Archer, and member of the 2012 Paralympic Archery Team? He uses his toes to shoot the arrow and holds the record “for a longest accurate shot in archery – able
bodied archers included.”

This phenomenon leads me to believe we are
only limited in this life by our thoughts.  Our thoughts allow us to live life in 1D, 2D, and 3D or travel through the fourth dimension and beyond.

My third collision was a bit more pleasant.  After flying for three or four days straight, a friend caught up with me, who I hadn’t spoken with for a while.    After my conversation with this amazing woman, I realized Nothing. I mean, “Nothing is as it seems.”

During our phone visit, she told me a story from her childhood – and how from a child’s perspective, she intuitively knew she was not limited by the boundaries those in her world had set up for her.  Instead, she chose to live at the limits of her infinite and boundless mind.

She said she never left that mindset.

“chose to live at the limits of her infinite and boundless mind.”

When I met her five years ago, my perception of her was radically different from what she was experiencing and how she perceived herself.

I saw a woman who wore wigs, and sometimes I would see her with a cane.  I thought because she was fashionably slim, she was a stylish fashionista.   I saw an exotic beauty who was Hollywood bound.  She spoke slow and moved deliberately.  I decided it was a Midwestern drawl and her artsy way.

From my view, she was on the move as she passionately connected folks in the Chicago arts scene.  I knew she wouldn’t be with us for long, for she was onto bigger and better things, I decided. Nevertheless, I was grateful for knowing her even at this moment.

When she called me on Tuesday, one of the first things I told her was “congratulations!” I had read how she had worked with several high-profile actors turned directors and even had a hand in delivering their films to an international film festival. I then asked when she was going to Hollywood, and she told me “in few weeks.”

She mentioned she’d be working on a project that she wasn’t liberty to speak of yet, but I knew of the players quite well, and I’d be the first to know.   I wasn’t surprised at her moves but rather that I could nail the timing so accurately.  She then said I’m paraphrasing;

“not bad for a woman who was recovering from brain surgery when I first met you.”


I had to rethink every one of our “collisions,” –and on Tuesday, she shared with me her truth, one that she never hid but I couldn’t see due to my “selective” perception.

You see, she wore wigs because she had no hair due to the surgery.  She was extremely thin from being hospitalized. Her Midwestern drawl and the artsy way was because she had to learn how to talk again. Her slow and deliberate movements were because she had to learn to walk again. Her smile was sly because she hadn’t regained the full use of her facial muscles – although her physicality was in question, maybe even in doubt, she retained one thing from her youth –

“living at the limits of her infinite and boundless mind”.

She said she never assumed she was entitled to anything in life. In all that
she experienced she expressed gratitude for everything she received
on her journey and was thankful for every step she made.

She said she learned early on, as a toddler convalescing in the hospital, that if she wanted something, no matter what obstacles she had to hurdle, she would have to go get it.   She learned then everything is within arm’s reach and for the taking if you simply go after it.

She learned then everything is within arm’s reach and for the taking if you simply go after it.

I learned from those three “collisions”; two by chance – one because I was tunnel-vision on my way to the gate: that although they may have perceived me as able-bodied, I was truly the one disabled by my own sense of entitlement and perspective.

When you choose to look at the world from a narrow-minded perspective and believe you are entitled to have everything handed to you –you are as good as crippled; handicapped; physically & mentally challenged.

Yet with an open mind, appreciative of another person’s beliefs and perspectives, and a belief that everything is within your reach if you go after it, then you move to an able-bodied even super-bodied even if your body won’t cooperate.

Your thoughts become the supreme operator of your earth-suit, and if you choose, the sky is the limit for you to rise.

Although I wrote this on 07/25/2012, mind over matter is still a challenge.