Monday, December 13, 2010

Unexpected Inspiration on Concourse E

Monday morning is always a wild scene at the airport in Atlanta. Last week, my Monday flight was taking me to LA, and I was there in plenty of time for my 9:30 flight. After grabbing a coffee and a paper, I headed to gate A-10 to find out that my flight had been cancelled for mechanical reasons and that I had been moved to the next flight at 11am. After the wave of frustration passed, I realized that I had an extra hour or so to spend at the airport…how to spend that time????

My first inclination was to find an outlet, crank up my computer, and start working on one of a number of items that were on my short list for the week. For some unknown reason, an idea came to mind that I could use this extra window of time for a bit of exercise. Leaving the A concourse, I decided to walk out to Concourse E and back, a distance of more than a mile probably taking me somewhere between 30-45 minutes. Off I went with roller-bag and briefcase in tow!

As I made my way to the far end of the airport, it hit me that I could grab a water on concourse E, then head back on my walk, so I went up the escalators with hydration on my mind. At the top of the escalators is an exhibit of MLK jr., a little treasure in the airport that I had totally forgotten. The first exhibit case held a gray suit which Dr. King wore on a visit to see President Johnson when they discussed the voting rights act. A little further along, I was surprised to see a pair of glasses and a Timex watch both everyday items for an extraordinary man. The last display contained two gold medals and upon closer scrutiny, I realized that one of them was the Nobel Peace Prize that Dr. King was awarded in the winter of 1964. I was amazed! For many years I have been very inspired by Dr. King’s acceptance speech from that event and over the past ten years I have shared that speech with hundreds of work associates, friends, and colleagues. Here in the airport that I travel from/through every week is the actual medal awarded to Dr. King, connected to the speech that continues to resonate for me on some universal themes: the “isness and oughtness” of mankind, and that we are not merely “flotsam and jetsam” of history.

As I came around the corner of the display, I was surprised to find a small interfaith chapel tucked behind the exhibit. I took a moment to sit down, pause for a moment of reflection (remember the essay "PBR") and I looked up that speech, once again freshly inspired.
You can find it at
Take a moment a read it for yourself. I am confident that you will find some inspiring thoughts that will affect your day/week and maybe your life.

Totally forgetting about my water, I gathered my things and left the chapel to head back to concourse A. When I returned to gate A-10, I had taken a bit more than an hour for my “little adventure.” An hour that could have been filled by emails, work calls, and other “pressing” issues instead was filled by a walk, a medal, and an unexpected moment of inspiration.

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