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COLUMN: Going too fast or too slow — to where? And why?

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By John Lapp

What, you ask, is this column going to address, with a title like this? Well, it’s designed to get you out of your own personal “box” and try to experience what is going on around you in the lives of others.
I am not always an observer of human nature and maybe what could have helped drive me to pursue a career in mental health. But it seems that I have almost always, at least as long as I can remember, wondered what makes people tick. Why do they do the things that they do? And, along with that, where are they all going, and why?”
When you have shopped at a large department store, perhaps the size of a Wal-Mart, have you noticed the speed of some shoppers as they move through the store aisles? Some appear to travel at “warp” speed and appear always in a hurry, while others are barely moving, just shuffling along with what seems like they have all the time necessary to shop more leisurely.
I would like to narrow this topic as it relates to a more recent experience while standing out behind our house on a clear star-lit sky at about 9 p.m. While this is a more common thing that I have done, let me tell you my thoughts while observing several airplanes coming and going into the Louisville airport area, along with others travelers who were clearly not arriving or departing the Louisville area.
Again, I pondered to myself: I wonder where they are going, or coming from and why did they choose to fly instead of some other means of travel? Some probing thoughts and questions presented themselves come to my mind as I watched.
On the same airplane are older and younger passengers, even some young children, hopefully accompanied by some adult. As I contemplated this personal inquiry, many different thoughts came to mind. Some are flying to spend some quality time with those that they know and love and anticipate quality times sharing their lives again on a personal basis.
Perhaps sitting next to some of these are some who are traveling with heavy hearts of sadness on the way to pay their last respects to a deceased friend or loved one and the visit will be somewhat pleasant, but also quite somber as the occasion is not one of joy and celebration.
Two other passengers may be sitting next to one another, one with the anticipation of doing the arrangements to finalize the blending of two companies with the goal of expanding a business operation for the corporation. The other passenger is about to view some houses as it relates to what will be the new location for her family, a move that may be a wonderful experience yet may be a painful, but necessary move as it relates to a recent divorce. While this move may be ultimately beneficial, it is not something that was ever anticipated but is of a necessity due to recent circumstances that have occurred, so this flight may be with a mixture of some sadness, yet some thoughts that “I hope this will be in the best interest of all.”
What about that elderly woman who is traveling alone, soon to be living with a daughter, one of her children who is recently divorced, must go back to work, and this mother is going to help the grandchildren stay as emotionally healthy as possible for a long enough period of time to be of some assistance. However, she has never lived for any length of time in a situation like this and is somewhat worried about her role(s) and whether she will be able to meet the needs that are required, mostly because while she knows and loves these children, it will be a major adjustment for her, the grandchildren and her daughter.
Although this may never have entered your thoughts, the plane is carrying many people from many walks of life, with many plans for each. The emotional level in that passenger compartment cannot be measured with any accuracy, but suffice it to say that the lives of each of them is much, perhaps totally, different from anybody else on the plane.
Just like the shopping visit, some are in a hurry for many different reasons, while some are not in a hurry for the same number of reasons.
Be aware of those around you who are perhaps displaying different speeds or levels of emotional expression, some smiling, some with sad, downcast, eyes and say to yourself, “I wonder what they are going through?” While I may not be able to know why, even where they are going on the plane or at the shopping center, God is aware of all and he can be their companion and guide, as well as be my companion and guide in the places and areas of my life. And, along with that, thank him for his love for you and his continuous care. Never take it for granted. He loves to hear that from you.
The next time I see or think of you (whether you are on the plane or going one speed or another at the shopping center), I will hopefully observe and wonder the same about you.
May God bless you as you walk this day with him as guide.