Tuesday, September 13, 2011

People who meet people

While vacationing, we were in awe of so many things. The vastness and diversity of the landscape of our country literally took our breath away many times a day.  We saw mountains, prairies, canyons, and forests that defy description. The English language doesn't contain enough superlatives to convey the beauty and grandeur. But, as awesome and inspiring the land is, the thing that impacted me most was the people we met along the way.

At Mt. Rushmore, as you sit on the viewing terrace it is possible to hear a myriad of languages spoken, as the tourists come not only from our own country but from around the world to be astounded by the majesty of the place. Those same international tourists were part of our encounter at crazy Horse Memorial the next afternoon and evening. The Crazy Horse facebook page posted that in addition to the bus tours, the parking lot contained vehicles from 46 states-including Hawaii- and 7 Canadian provinces. Diverse peoples coming together to share sacred space.

At Crazy Horse Memorial, I met the daughter of one of my favorite authors.I was able to chat with her while my son looked at museum exhibits. I find now that she is also an author, but she never mentioned her own books as we discussed the profound effect her father's writings have had on me. What a lovely tribute.

During our trip I was fortunate to meet some caring people who worked at the hotels and restaurants. Everyone has a story, and though most of us would not consider our stories worth telling, the truth is each one is worth hearing. In Chamberlain South Dakota, I met Yolanda. She was the overnight worker at the hotel desk, and since I tend to wake early and seek out a place to meditate, I had time to spend with her. Turned out it was her birthday and that she and I are the same age, with children of similar ages. Of course, Yolanda also has grandchildren, something I am not blessed with. I think if I lived in the area Yolanda and I could be great friends.

In Cheyenne Wyoming the server in the restaurant was Luke. He was 19 years old and had just moved to Cheyenne two weeks ago from Pittsburgh PA. How does a young man from Pittsburgh end up in Cheyenne? Well, it seems his older brother became interested in rodeo and moved to Cheyenne to go to college last year in order to learn about it. When Luke graduated from high school this year he decided to join his brother out west. You have to love young persons with a sense of adventure. No matter where they end up, these brothers will be the richer for it. They will have a broad sense of people and places to draw on as they mature, and that can only be a good thing.

This broad sense of people and places is why we travel. I want to provide my son with as many enriching diverse opportunities as possible. Sometimes  in our routines we can isolate ourselves from the chance to meet people whose lifestyles and traditions are different than ours. When we do not have to opportunity to learn about the way other people live we limit our own choices. Something as simple as a trip to the grocery store is different depending on where you are.

In North Dakota and Montana we found that a trip to the grocery store could involve a drive of over 60 miles one way. My friend Linda thinks nothing of getting in her car and driving two towns over to see her grandchildren. In a normal week, I may put 10 miles on my car since everything I need is within a 2 mile trip. The hospital is 70 miles away for my friend. Just a whole different way of thinking about normal everyday routines. At one point in our drivng we passed thorugh a town and a billboard announced the 'last McDonald's for 205 miles'. Now we weren't looking for a McDonald's, but that billboard stuck in our minds as we drove that day.

Yet, as traveled, the people we met felt like friends. I am certain, had we got aorund to discussing such things, we would have held widely divergent beliefs on many topics. But the only topic that was important was to opportunity to connect with another person, and so as we traveled we learned that  Barbra Streisand' classic song is a seminal truth..People who need people are the luckiest people!

Peace and Blessings,

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