Funny Feelings In Airports

Do you ever get funny feelings in airports? My brother and I just went to the Ontario airport yesterday to pick up my grandparents. (They're flying in from Pennsylvania to spend Thanksgiving week with us.) Of course, it took us 2 separate times of parking and moving the car before we finally found the terminal we needed to be at, but that's beside the point. When we got to the baggage claim and began watching the escalators for my grandparents, I started to feel something strange—a sort of sinking feeling, in the “pit of the stomach” as some have put it. Not to say, of course, that I wasn’t excited to see my grandparents. They hadn’t visited California since 2001 and neither my brother nor I had visited them in Pennsylvania since then, so I was glad to have the opportunity to spend a week with them for the first time in four years. But I felt almost a kind of fear as I was watching for them. I saw a man step over the escalator whom I almost mistook for my grandfather, and felt almost afraid for a moment as I looked at him. A fear, perhaps, that he looked differently than I had remembered him—an irrational fear that I might not be able to recognize him after not seeing him for so long. Of course, once my actual grandparents stepped over the escalator, my brother and I recognized them immediately and happily greeted them.

I remember experiencing the same feeling during the summer of 2000, but this time in the opposite position. My brother and I had flown to Pennsylvania by ourselves to visit our grandparents for a few weeks (and for me to participate in a “Discipleship Training Month” with a family friend who lived on the PA-NY border). We returned home after six weeks away, and as we stepped off the plane in California I felt the same fear, but this time it was concerning my parents who were picking us up, even though it had only been six weeks since I’d seen them. I think the root issue here is the fundamental human fear of change itself. I was afraid of my grandparents (and before of my mother and father) changing so much that I wouldn’t be able to recognize them—or even just changing at all.

Why are we so afraid of change? I guess the principle of inertia holds true in more than just physics. Most people agree that change is a good thing, and that the fear of change is something that inhibits progress in many areas—personal, social, scientific, technological. And I suppose that’s true. As Dave Roux told me over and over again last summer, growth starts with pain, and change often causes pain. And, as I must do whenever I have nothing creative or original to say, I turn to people who have come before who are much smarter and more creative than I:

“If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.” – Saint Augustine

“Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.” – Joan Wallach Scott

And to end with a quote from that esteemed thinker, philosopher and man-with-a-way-with-words extraordinaire, George Carlin:

“I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed.”


Darth_Harbison said...

Heh . . . if it makes you feel any better, I had that same feeling . . .

Warrior of Zion said...

Embrace change! I like the old nickels better than the new ones.