I was sick most of the weekend, but sort of amazed that by NOT taking any cold medication, I healed quite quickly. I was feeling better by Sunday afternoon, and though J told me I should "call out" (I can't "call out." It involves canceling flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars; rescheduling appointments and meetings, etc.), I demured. "I'm fine," I told him. "I'll be fine."
I left the house around 5:50 AM yesterday morning, and then headed to the airport in gusty winds and horizontal torrents of rain. The weather only got worse, and my adrenaline only pumped harder. Half of the flights in the terminal were canceled, EXCEPT for mine. I overheard pilots marveling about the high winds (50 mph gusts!) and gate agents chattering incredulously: "I can't believe they're flying in this!" One bag attendant boomed something about "Hurricane Katrina out there!" Outside, the winds continued to whip around the tiny regional jets on the tarmac;pools of water had formed and small waves crested around baggage carts with every blustery blow.
Never, in all of my years of travel - my nearly 300 or so odd flights in the last five years - have I SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS.
Yep, and then we were boarding.
I slowly and somberly walked towards the mini-plane with winds gusting INSIDE THE MOTHERFUCKING JETWAY.
And I promptly and calmly turned around, and walked back to the gate agent.
"I'm not feeling well. Yeah, I'm not taking this flight."
Never in my life have I done anything like it, but fuck you, US Air. No one had any business flying in that monsoon. And no, I wasn't going into preterm labor to get to Columbus. I still had a cold. I was going the fuck home. The end.
(J: Can you calm down already?)
And... that was Monday.
But what I really need to talk to you about? What is really important here?
So picture if you will a sunny and brisk New York afternoon. Your blogmistress (in all of her glorious pregnant glory, toting two large roller bags and a GIANT Michael Kors bag that is so pretty and yet so heavy) attempts to hail a cab in downtown Manhattan. She is unceremoniously turned down by one driver. (Like, the hell, dude? I am going to Penn Station, not Pelham.)
A second cab stops and quickly agrees to take me to my destination.
The small African driver greets me warmly, and then says, "I have a question for you - oh, you are eating. I'll wait."
(In truth I had just popped a cough drop. But I had been in meetings all day, and I was tired of chatting. I settled in to the backseat and took in the FDR.)
A few minutes later the driver begins again: "So let me ask you this: will there ever be peace on earth?"
I ponder this seriously for a moment.
"No," I decide.
"Good! And why not?"
"Religion. Money. Power."
Ladies and gents, I give you the gift of Kwame Fosu. I lurve him.
Kwame is West African. He tells me this, and then asks me to guess which country. And then I learn that I suck at West African geography. I pound my head for a moment until he finally says: "It begins with a GH."
"Ghana!" Nice one, genius.
Kwame is no ordinary driver. He's also a teacher, and a philosopher. He was once in a documentary on PBS (which - dudes. I just rocked the wiki on him this evening, and I was pleased as PUNCH that he checked out. Legit!)
As we weave through the 20s and make our way across town, Kwame explains that we're doing ourselves a disservice in this world. We're thinking only on the physical, material plane. Technology and possessions are corrupting our minds. We need to elevate our consciousness, and start thinking on the mental and spiritual levels. He gushes about a "new renaissance!" and exclaims emphatically that we are in dire need of a humanistic education.
Kwame believes we are all connected. We have to exist in all planes (physical, mental, and spiritual), because, "if you go too far to the spiritual, then you can't pay your bills."
Word, Kwame. Word.
Then he asks, "What is your purpose in life?"
I think about this for a few seconds, but I got nothing.
"Honestly, Kwame? I don't know that yet. I'm still searching."
(Guys, we are totally in the cab, driving towards Penn Station. God, I effing LOVE New York.)
But Kwame is sure of his own purpose.
"Self-knowledge. Self-education. Service to others. You must fill yourself up with knowledge - anything you can find - then you must serve others. You must spread your joy around!"
"I love that," I say honestly.
"We all have a right to exist," he continues. "Knowledge. Whose natural resources are these? They are not yours; they are not mine. They belong to ALL of us."
And then this gem: "You can win the rat race; but you are still a rat!"
Kwame encourages me to become a child of the universe. Self-educate. Meditate. Religion ends up closing our minds ("my religion is better than yours"), but if we can open our minds, and fill ourselves up with knowledge, we can use our platform in life and enlighten others. Then, that enlightenment reaches critical mass, and what do you get then?
A new renaissance! A humanistic education.
I reluctantly get out of the cab at 31st and 8th, but not before Kwame hands me his contact information. I tip him 30% and thank him most sincerely for the education.
I'm not religious, but I am a child of the universe (by way of Delaware County). Always have been. And I place the utmost importance on education. Now I tell you, you could do a lot worse than Kwame Fosu as your spiritual sensei.
And to think? I could have hopped in that first cab.
It makes me believe that there is something greater out there, guiding my path.