Airport Anthropology

28 12 2011

Philly International. Chicago O’Hare. Tokyo Narita. Seoul Inchon. A mom making faces with her daughter. Teenager squating next to a plug surfin the web. An Asian girl checking her split ends for 15 minutes. Ten individuals reading their own respective literature. Three people watching movies on their iphones. Many others eating their to-go lunches, all separately, in their own worlds.

The airport is truly a petri dish of selfish bacteria. Maybe that’s too harsh. How about the bacteria of individualism? Everyone is doing something apart from most anyone else and they are busy moving, trying to get to where they want to be. Most everyone in the airport is concern mostly for themselves. Looking out for number one. Notice when a plane lands, almost all the passengers are thinking one thing: I need to get out. Out in the waiting spaces, everyone is compartmentalized within themselves.

Maybe such individualistic activity really is just an extension of city life, or maybe it is a result of fatigue. Not physical fatigue but fatigue set on by knowing one is far from home. Mental fatigue that comes from thinking you are ‘on the road.’ Spiritual fatigue, even, knowing you don’t ‘belong.’ Makes you wonder. How many of us know where our true home is? How many of us have a place to rest? Not knowing such seems only natural that we become tired, selfish, individualistic, not just in the airport but in the journey of life. It is only natural that the comforted are ones who can turn their inward attention, what Augustine called curvatus in se, outward. In this journey called ‘life’ where can we rest our heads?

But then again, airports aren’t all that bad as anyone who’s seen the beginning of ‘Love Actually’ knows. But that for another time.


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