Just to start off: I do not typically talk to people on planes. Which is ironic, since I started HealthRise based on a conversation I had with a seatmate on a short flight from Chicago to Detroit. But this just goes to show that you never know what life is going to bring you, or who Delta is going to put in the seat next to you.
A few weeks ago, I was flying home from DC, where I had spent several days at the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference, an annual event to strengthen US-Israel relations. I was fired up from all the incredible people I had met and the ideas we had shared. I was also exhausted and looking forward to a 90-minute nap before getting home to my family. I found my seat and settled in; earbuds in place and eyes closed.
And then there was a rustling next to me. When I opened my eyes to check it out, there she was…Miss Gaylee. Now remember…I’m nap-ish…sleeeeeepppyyyyy…but as this lady got settled I knew we were getting into something. Gaylee is the mother of four, all home-schooled and a devout Christian. She is a big believer in signs and miracles and Jesus. So we agreed on one thing. After all, I am Suzy Farbman’s son, and if my mother taught me anything, it’s that signs are everywhere. Our job is to see them.
So there she was, the biggest, blinking neon sign I’ve had in a while. Gaylee and I spent the entire flight figuring out that we are so much closer in our beliefs than either of us could have realized. We treasure the same things: family, faith, nature. Our language of love and understanding crossed over any boundaries and her wisdom and warmth melted over me; she was the jolt I needed, not the nap I wanted.
As Gaylee and I said our goodbyes with a hug and a smile, I realized just how quickly and importantly she had impacted my life. Gaylee looked at me and said, “David, I can’t remember the last time I talked to someone next to me on a plane. I didn’t see this coming and now I wish the flight wouldn’t end.” And as cheesy as it sounds, I felt the same. Gaylee was the perfect ending to the AIPAC conference, as she and I, on two divergent paths, found common ground and shared values just through thoughtful conversation. Close quarters and good intentions build bridges quickly.