Mourning ChivalrySo on my flight from Minneapolis back home to take care of my mom after her fall, I got really triggered. Toward the end of the flight, an elderly man was trying to return to his seat from the restroom. There was some pretty severe turbulance and I realized he wasn't going to make it. The stewards weren't doing anything--so I stepped out of my seat and called out to him to take mine.
I even struggled to get to his seat--so I know he wouldn't have made it. Later at baggage claim a few people came up and thanked me. One couple said that they had heard the flight attendents in the back laughing and saying, "I hope he falls." I was outraged. But then later, something in me broke. I began to sob and sob. I think in large part because my own parents health is failing and so I'm very sensitive to the frailty of elderly people. But in part, too, becasue of my own vulnerability. As much as I acknowledged and was grateful that I'm strong and capable and able to come to someone's aid, there was an equal and opposite part of me that mourned the fact that I had had to do it. No man had come to help. And I realized that I was mourning the fact that no man had come to help--and that perhaps no man would ever come to my aid.
Now, I am a strong, independent woman and in many ways, I've never allowed anyone to help me. So, I am culpable for my own 'aloneness' but still a part of me was tremendously shook. Shook by the casual cruelty of the stewards/flight attendents. Shook by my own parents frailty and my own sensitivity. Shook by my grief in longing for a world in which men would be like my father--courageous, kind, compassionate, leaders. A world where a woman like me wouldn't have to be the only one to reach out her hand to help.
Since then, I've recognized that chivalry isn't dead (in fact, the previous post was only possible because of the generosity, time and skill of a friend of mine, who is also a man--a chivalrous man); but that people are instead afraid. Men are afraid of women; women are afraid of men. People are afraid to reach out, even though they long to.
This trip taught me that reaching out is the only way I can reach myself within. Connecting is the only way I can connect to the one.
May we never be afraid
to lend a helping hand
May the seeds of ill will
and fear burn in the furnace
of love and compassion
May kindness rule the day
May women be women
and may men be men
and may we learn to bridge
the difference with