I had the earliest flight of my life last week. 5am.
That means I had to wake up at 3am. Anyone awake at that hour is either cursing their snoring partner, partying like a rock star, or both.
I got into my Uber to head to the airport and the worst possible thing happened. The driver wanted to talk.
I tried to be polite and make as little conversation possible… it was 3:15am!
The Uber drive was a clean cut dude, well put together, a nice car. But he told me how he just shuttered his business, a furniture store. It went bankrupt.
And Uber was his only means of income.
His kids, in their early 20’s, were helping him get by.
His wife had recently passed away and the bills for her cancer treatment drained his savings.
How does he get back on his feet, in his 60’s?
And he’s not alone.
The current cover of Atlantic Magazine says nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 if they needed it in an emergency.
Does that come as a surprise to you? It did to me.
We may be surrounded by wealthy people living in nice homes, but just a few miles away are millions who are struggling.
Talk to your taxi or Uber driver, the person handing you your morning coffee, maybe the person sitting over your shoulder at work or next to you during your Sunday service. Hear their story. Chances are, they are grinding harder than ever.
Upon getting out of this Uber, all I could think to do was give him a copy of my book. But he didn’t really care about my advice.
Rather, he appreciated being heard.
Listening is one of the most compassionate things we can do.
I’m not talking about listening to your kids or your friends or your yoga teacher.
I’m talking about taking the time to listen to the stories of people with whom we have several degrees of separation, the people you will only come in contact with once in your life.
There is a video going VIRAL right now of a father with his young, autistic son at a Coldplay concert in Mexico City.
The son cannot hold back his emotions and cries in the passion of the song “Fix You.”
The father and son sing together, out loud…with thousands….
“Tears stream… down your face…”
I watched it over and over and I could not stop crying.
The captions in the video shed light on the son’s story and the nature of autism.
The video is only 30 seconds but you get the sense that this boy, in this moment, has risen to new heights.
Can we all do the same?!
We are all on the same quest: to love and be loved.
We may live in different neighborhoods, wear different clothes, send our kids to different schools…
…but is the father’s love for his son at the Coldplay concert any different than the love you feel for your children?
Is this Uber driver’s grief for his departed wife any different than the way you would feel if you lost your partner of 22 years?
What binds us to other human beings is far greater than what divides us. Why can’t our politicians get that right?!
We need to hear each other’s stories to live the full breadth of our journey.
We need to hear each other’s stories to understand true happiness.
We need to hear each other’s stories to see our glass as half full when we spend far too much time struggling with emptiness.
As I left the Uber and made my way toward my flight…
…. instead of thinking, “To hell with this Godforsaken early morning flight…”
…I was thinking, “Thank God my wife is alive and well, I can’t wait to take my son to his first live concert, and I am blessed to have $400 in savings.”