Treat everyone you run into as if they’re going through something heavy. Because if you do, you’ll probably be right.
I remember thinking about this in the airport when I found out the mother of one of my best friends had just died quite suddenly. I called my friend. He was crushed. We cried. And then I boarded the plane.
I thought about everyone else on the plane. I wondered if the airline employee scanning my boarding pass could see that I had been crying. I wondered if there would be room for my bag in the overhead bin. If the person next to me would be nice.
In that moment, I couldn’t help but think about how odd the situation felt.
All around me were strangers. I knew no one. And as far as I knew, no one had any idea what I was dealing with. I thought about the flight attendant, the man sitting next to me, the woman across the aisle. Did they have a sick child or a friend in the hospital? Were they on that plane in a race against time? What about the person who had been yelling at the gate agent?
As I turned away and stared at the Pacific Ocean through the little window from my seat on the plane, I was left with a bunch of grief and two big questions.
What burdens are all the people on this plane carrying? And how would I treat them differently if I knew?
I don’t know the answer to those questions… but I do know this: other people have burdens too.
So treat them like they do.