I’m sitting on an airplane. Since it’s not time yet to play our electronic devices (and I’m sitting between two nice, quiet men), what I can hear are the voices of two people behind me bitching about work.
I can feel my body tightening with their complaining. I can also hear my old self in the middle of their conversation—all the times I’ve enjoyed the art of figuring out what is wrong.
As I wended my way through the security line earlier, I caught my Reactive Brain watching people defensively, warily. I noticed I wasn’t enjoying myself, so I decided to shift into appreciation. Suddenly I was in the middle of a fun game, observing the endless flow of details to appreciate about people. Where before the man in front of me was someone I was aware of only as a form, a shapeless lump to follow, I suddenly noticed the attractive curl of his graying hair and the smile lines around his eyes. Across the web barrier, I saw the flash of deep blue eyes in the face of a man wearing a cobalt blue shirt. I saw colors, where only moments before I was critically aware of all the January black, brown, and gray around me, and I could see the care that a young woman took in contrasting her purple scarf with her dark green shirt.
For whatever reason from my past, my default position tends to be to see people as potential foes, those who could hurt me. I delight in being able to shift my brain to see all who surround me as my friends and allies, all of us players in this world together—especially the handsome men who are sitting on either side of me. I love feeling the protection of being in the middle seat.