After a local flight, as I was about to toss a used boarding pass into the garbage, I took a second look at it. An hour prior, this was the most important document I had on me. It was the complete identification I needed to get on the airplane. I paid special attention to keep it secure. And now, it had no value.
I opened the boarding pass and closely looked at the amazing zigzag of the bar code, which somehow made sense to a scanner and connected the pass to me. It didn’t look like me at all, but it had my fingerprint. I thanked this little piece of paper for the value it served. And then, I gently let it go.
I know that the meaning that connects me with many people, who are precious and indispensable in my life today, will fade. But people aren’t boarding passes. My boarding pass, once used, literally lost its total value after the flight. It couldn’t serve anyone else. But people who move out of my life will become precious and indispensable to someone else. If I could be grateful to my used boarding pass today, should I not be profoundly grateful to the people who came into my life and then moved into someone else’s?
A few thousand years ago, an average tribe had about 150 members. Some researchers believe that 150 (often called Dunbar’s number) is about the maximum number of meaningful social connections we can maintain before life starts getting out of balance. Yet with agriculture, food processing, transportation, wholesale, retail, and marketing, hundreds of millions of people collaborate globally to create my lunch plate. How can I not be grateful to each one of them?
Irrespective of the current value to me (or you), every person is precious and indispensable to someone. Recognizing that value helps you honor each person for who they are and what purpose they serve. It is best to strive and find a connection in these unique individual purposes, for even though our flight destinations may seem different, once the journey is complete, the flights eventually will take us back to home — perhaps the same home.
The different purposes we all serve eventually unite to a single goal — to create a kinder, happier, and more hopeful world for our planet’s children.
May you be privileged to create kindness, happiness, and hope for our planet’s children.
Dr. Amit Sood answers your questions about stress, resilience, happiness, relationships, and related topics in his column. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.