Of the Truth and Pittsburgh’s Airport

Some Thoughts on the Human Race

I spent the better part of my morning seated in the Pittsburgh airport, enjoying the silent descent of snow and the pleasure of free wi-fi. It was not like any other experience I’ve ever had in an airport: peaceful, in a way that modern life rarely is anymore. There was something about the entire scene that made me feel as if I were glimpsing something transcendent, something bordering on ethereal. The collection of people, all settled and patiently waiting the arrival of our plane (delayed in Atlanta because of the cold there; it was 7 degrees and snowing in the ‘Burgh, and their airport was flinging planes out of there like Vegas blackjack dealer flings cards) were smiling and friendly and overall one might imagine the vast collection of strangers in an airport were really a troupe of friends lounging at a local ski-lodge, unwinding after a long run down a double black diamond.

When the human body is in repose, that is, when it is not slammed full of tension and noise and the hurriedness that can sometimes be modern life, it can be a wonder to behold, capable of any number of astonishing feats. I watched, absorbed, as the various people around me contorted themselves into what must have been comfortable positions for the tiny airport chairs (otherwise, why would you bend yourself silly?) and lounged away. No one angrily calling someone else to bitch about the weather. No one storming the ticketing desk to demand an explanation for our delayed flight. No one stalking back and forth on the concourse raising cain over something beyond control. It was transfixing in a way that nothing has been lately; it was an invitation to consider what life would be like if we could, on a regular basis, just have a few moments where we lose control and don’t scramble like demoniacs to find it.

I felt the strange sensation of being happy; not just amused or momentarily not irritated, but genuinely happy, despite my tiredness and the several hundred miles still to go before stepping into my home. In this little airport (Pittsburgh, for the record, has a kick-butt airport – free wi-fi, no crowds, plenty of good food and seats) that used to be a farm, I actually felt an almost pastoral serenity that the hurry-hole we call Hartsfield could never hope to match. And watching the people around me, relaxed, contorted, at peace, I felt a genuine sense of things being, for the moment, okay with the world. When we are at peace with our surroundings and ourselves, the human being can be a rather pleasant creature, myself included. It was nice to catch even a smidge of what can be in the realm of human relations. It made heaven, a reality in which I very much believe, seem that much more tangible, that much more present.

Every once in a while, it is nice to be reminded that what I believe in my heart is not a pipe dream, not some story well-told to make my days go by a little easier; it is, in point of fact, what C.S. Lewis once said: supremely True. And so all men must either accept it or reject it; but sitting in Pittsburgh at 9:30 this morning, a sometimes challenging Truth was writ large via hope in repose, waiting for a flight, perhaps not to Atlanta, but someplace truly heavenly.

How to Beat the Snowed-In Blues

Here in Atlanta, this has become a reality in many homes...

We’ve been snowed in our house for the last three days. It’s been fun, but the kids are finally starting to get bored with being inside, and my wife and I are beginning to wonder if we should redirect money from retirement into tuition for a good European Boarding school. To prevent us from shipping our kids to the KinderStalag in Dminsk, Prussia, we’ve decided to direct our creative energies towards some simple, homemade solutions that can keep the whole family entertained. I offer them up as suggestions for others who are stuck inside here in Atlanta or in other cold places. Like the South Pole.

  1. Hide the Baby: each of the older people in the house take turns hiding the youngest member of the household, then the rest of the family tries to find him/her. This works great until you forget where you hid the little booger.
  2. Mommy’s Shoe Shuffle: let the kids get into your master bedroom closet and rearrange Mommy’s shoe tree, the one with 327 pairs just hanging there. Then, time Mommy to see how quickly she can re-match each shoe with its missing mate. Or, time Mommy and see which happens faster–her finding each matching shoe or bursting into tears while Googling “divorce attorneys cheap”.
  3. Skype Daddy: can’t get Daddy away from the computer? Just Skype him from the next room. He’s sure to pay attention to you once you appear on his laptop screen!
  4. Porcelain Rescue: give your toddler a Ziploc bag full of small items (like all of your daughter’s Polly Pockets stuff, let’s say…) and then open the door to the master bathroom. Give the weeble-wooble five minutes, and then give mommy, daddy and the siblings 45 seconds to see how many pieces they can fish out of the potty before it gets flushed. Bonus points are given if the plumber does not get called.
  5. Thomas the Tank Engine Drinking Game: every time you hear a whistle toot, you do a shot of apple juice.
  6. Whale’s Tail: everyone puts on their favorite jeans and then you measure to see who’s butt has gotten the biggest.
  7. Kelly Slater Clicker Invitational: see who can surf through the channels in the least amount of time. Bonus points for every show you can name without having to stop and watch.
  8. Pimp My Toy: take apart as many toy cars as possible, then use the different pieces to create as many new models as possible.
  9. Match the Streak: let both of the kids run around the house as fast as possible – naked.
  10. Family Night RAW: basically, every man for himself wrestling. Just remember not to pinch, bite, slap or tackle the kids. It’s okay with your spouse.

So, how do you and your family pass the time when you can’t get out of the house?