40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
I recently bought a plane ticket, and when choosing my seat I was reminded the aisle and window seats cost more. Coming from a long line of thriftiness, I chose the middle seat. No extra fee.
I slipped into my spot on the Delta flight and began observing the characters of the day. The gentleman in the aisle seat next to me (16D) who had quick access to the lavatory was dressed in denim and had a novel stuffed in the seat pocket in front of him. If our intellectual abilities were judged by the girth of the books we read, this guy would be in the genius realm. Personally, I’m still working on finishing this month’s 1/8 inch thick Reader’s Digest.
To the right was my window neighbor (16F) who noticed my inability to juggle coffee, a bag of tortillas, and a backpack, and asked if I would like to use his tray table to place my coffee. Kindness in action. I thanked him. Turns out he is one of the marvels in the world that can fall asleep as soon as the plane engines roar. His head flopped down then shot up several times the way it does when we ask our bodies to sleep vertically. In a matter of minutes, he settled into a deep slumber.
Once we bounced through the mountains and up to cruising altitude, I began writing. I noticed the aisle guy had a nasty cut on his hand, so I rifled through my wallet for a Bandaid (dad said always carry one in your wallet) and offered it to him. He thanked me and as he peeled the plastic pieces off each side of the adhesive, he told me he works with stone which causes a lot of small lesions. I closed my computer and seized the opportunity to tap into his story.
En route from Santa Fe to Atlanta, New York, and finally Italy, he told me of his life as a sculptor. After high school, he spent time in Ohio, Berkely, then lived in Carrara, Italy where he learned to speak Italian.
He told me he carves mellifluous (smooth and soothing – I had to look it up) musical compositions into hard stone finding the balance and tensions of negative and positive space as he chisels away. He recently finished a piece that started out as 5,000 pounds of stone and after carving and creating ended in 1,500 pounds of beauty. It took him three months, 5-6 hours per day. He then chooses one of his galleries to place it in to sell and hopes someone who understands and appreciates his work will purchase it.
He has his art in studios from San Francisco to Aspen and quarries most of his stone in Italy. He then ships thousands of pounds of stone to his studio in Santa Fe and completes the work at his studio.
We talked about unnecessary stress when working as an artist and parent, current events in Ukraine, happy childhood moments with siblings, and difficult times we’d rather forget.
I told him about my kids and each of their talents. I mentioned my son with the 3-D mind as noted by an engineering professor. “You either have it or you don’t. Your son does.” I asked how he knew he wanted to sculpt. He said he was like my son. One day his dad pulled him aside when he was young and said, “you have a 3-D mind and you will not be happy if you don’t do something with your hands when you grow up. Don’t tell your mother I told you.”
It was a pleasure sitting with my new friend, hands covered in sculpting scars and the soft, gruff voice of a well-read artist. As we parted ways under the bright lights of gate B27 inside the terminal, I wished him a nice journey in Spanish and he responded with the same in Italian.
I teetered off toward baggage claim balancing a duffle bag, backpack, and the same bag of tortillas. I then heard my kind window neighbor (16F) ask if he could help me carry my things to baggage claim. I declined, thanking him again for his compassion, and headed straight to the restroom. I love the middle seat, I do, but it is way too far from the bathroom.
Why choose the middle seat? Save money, gain two new friends.
Please pray for Ukraine.