I fiddle with the screen, adding songs to a playlist. It’s early morning and I am on a plane to Georgia. Flannery O’Connor and the sweet, sticky south call to me as my northern body scoots down in the seat. Some days I hide to see if anyone will notice me. I test them, these normal, tired everyday people bound for home or on a long journey. I watch them for a sign- do you see me? I whisper as I make my way to the bathroom at the end of the aisle. Do you think I am extraordinary? Do you wonder about who that yankee girl with the long reddish hair is, and where she is going, and what thoughts swirl through her head? The baseball caps around me don’t stir. The women trying to drink their coffee as we hit choppy air keep sipping. The children cry and color and push their feet against the seat in front of them.
I catch my own eye in the tiny bathroom mirror and am surprised by the force of the response. “Hilary Joan, stop worrying!” I tell myself. “This is an airplane. You don’t need someone to be in awe of you.”
I am surprised by how much I wanted awe. I want to turn heads and stop traffic, I want to leave an impression. I want to linger in someone’s mind.
I put my hands on either side of my face. “Go sit and write.” I do. I smile at the woman waiting in line for the bathroom and squeeze back into my middle seat. I smile at my seat mates, who turn away and sleep or recheck their email.
I don’t have an answer to that desire, that hunger to be known and awed, that strange mix of selfishness and truth (for we are all extraordinary marvels). But I begin to write.
Humility is throwing yourself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.
– Madaleine L’Engle
Oh Lord, grant me the grace to forget myself.