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Friday, October 3, 2008

From Seattle to Chicago to Dayton, OH

I spent today flying across the country in preparation for judging a dog show. I do this a lot and to keep myself from getting bored and cranky, I've developed a mental outlook that keeps me occupied.

First I always view each trip as an opportunity. Maybe it's an opportunity to finally read those magazines that have been stacking up at my house, or it's time I can spend brainstorming and writing down the dog training items I want to work on or exercises for my students, or it's a moment I can finally draft specific steps to a problem or project I'd like to tackle and it's always an opportunity to buy the latest and greatest books to read.

Even with all of that, my absolute favorite is to look at each trip as a mini-adventure and I try to find moments that I can relay back to my friends and family upon my return. The fun and humorous are what I try the hardest to find (because everyone likes a good laugh), but whatever comes my way, I take it.

For example, on one trip I sat next to a group of people who were flying to Seattle to try out for the TV show, American Idol. One person had flown in from Australia, another from the East Coast and so on. They were from different walks of life and some were humble, some were arrogant and some were...well...just weird! Regardless, here were people actively going out to pursue a dream and were brave (and/or stupid) enough to want to go SING in front of lots & lots of people.

Most folks won't leave their own neighborhoods to pursue a hobby, let alone a life long dream. It got me thinking about what my dreams were/are...and so you see how my "mini-adventure" not only kept me occupied, but allowed me to reflect on my own accomplishments and more importantly, to plan a few more for the future as well.

So back to my current trip....

As is typical fashion in flying these days, 3 of us are cramped into a row on one side of the plane. The guy in the middle was by far the pushiest, least considerate space hog I've sat next to during any of my travels so far. He leans over into our space, puts his coffee cup on our trays (nope, he didn't ask), plops his feet next to ours, elbows us, pushes our arm off the arm rest and at one point, tried to climb over my seat mate without notice so he could exit the row.

After he leaves, my seatmate and I make a pact that we're going to buy each other a glass of wine to ease our bruises . Eventually our middle guy comes back and for some unknown reason, I strike up a conversation with him. Maybe it was out of curiosity, I mean is he really that much of a jerk? Is he having a bad day? There's got to be a story of "why" that is lurking behind the actions.

So as we're talking, the "why" soon becomes clear to me. First, my new pal is raised and born in Boston. I've grown accustomed to the easy going ways of the Western side of the country and my Eastern friend is a product of his environment. I can appreciate the cultural differences and admire them. Next, it comes out that he was an attorney. Not the fancy Wall Street kind, but the kind that works for an organized labor Police Union. Talk about a non-nonsense type of career!

As midi-guy talks, it's clear he's very intelligent and speaks in such a way as you can't help but be pulled into the conversation. I won't bore you with all of the details, but we were daring and talked politics, the economy, society, world religions, about other countries and much more. I left that plan feeling quite a bit more educated, with lots of ideas and even more questions.

Turns out once midi-guy settled in, he wasn't so fidgety and he really was a neat guy to talk with. Not someone I think I would have picked out on the street to talk with, but well worth the time once I looked past the outward appearances.

Another successful trip where I didn't try to gauge my eyeballs out due to boredom...

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