Lannie, stands more than 6 feet tall, sports a full beard, and is a self-proclaimed "Red Neck from Texas". I consider him a friend. I met him on my flight to Amsterdam from England. We were alone in our seating aisle, and the conversation progressed naturally as the wheels went up. He had a kindred spirit. Our American accents made us instantly connect. "Where are you from?" And so on. Randomly, he asked me if I was easily "nauseated"? Before I could answer, he showed me a picture of him on the operating table with his skull bloodied and cracked open. He proceeded to tell me about his story. How he was a thrill seeker, and loved to BASE jump, skydive, and ride his motorcycle cross-country. Unfortunately, what he loved most was the cost for his accident. It resulted in a biking incident that left him needing his mouth wired shut and put on heavy pain killers. Lannie proceeded to tell me that the doctors said he would have to learn how to walk again with extensive physical therapy. He told me he was out of the hospital in 9 days, and back at work less than three months later. How was this possible? Because be refused to believe he was a vegetable. He defied the odds of the healthcare professionals, by not giving up or allowing his fate to be determined by others.
A little deeper into the conversation, I found out he purchased another motorcycle after he had fully healed. Taken aback, I asked was his family upset he did that. He replied, no. They knew him. Adding, you could fall in the shower and bust your head, accidents happen. Lannie refused to live in fear, and got back on his bike. I expressed to him I was on a path of living fearlessly. That I had left home a month ago on a quest to reconnect to myself. He explained, "It's not the destination, it's the journey. The destination is just an excuse...it's how you get there that matters." I couldn't have agreed more. I've learned so much about who I am in my travels by letting go and just LIVING. For me living, is waking up and finding something to be grateful about.
It boggled my mind that I was this young single black mother from New Jersey, talking to this man who looked like an extra from Sons of Anarchy (S.O.A), and none of that mattered. We were two people sharing our story, explaining why we couldn't give up. His near death experience taught him the value of life. Heartbreak and my lack of better judgement taught me the value of self.
I felt so inspired. Our short flight, turned into the most enlightening conversation I've had in a while. I affirm all the time I am here to connect with people, to make sense of this thing called life. Upon departing the plane, I asked for his card, so I could send him the link to this article. I wanted to personally thank him for being a part of my journey. We parted ways with a hug. x