Traversing my way down the crowded concourse, I weave through listless travelers as they burrow their faces deep into the garden of their cell phones. Neck pillows hitchhiking atop slumped shoulders, considering jumping to their deaths to the dirty floor below in order to avoid one more second of having to listen to the conversations blurted into the phones of their owners. The smell of coffee, over priced hand sanitizer, and concern restlessly waltzes through the air.
As the mass of this human conglomerate oozes forward, it begins to part like the Red Sea… the one that Charlton Heston parted in 1956 (google if necessary). Through this split in the crowd comes a little boy running as fast as he possibly can. I imagine fresh off a flight and needing to get right by doing a couple LAX laps as quickly as possible. And in his wake follows his mother, one eye apprehensively watching him and the other on her phone. Her motherly duties all covered in the insurance policy of her screaming out these two words to her quickly accelerating child… “DON’T FALL!”
This is the scene I witnessed last week while I was on my way to the gate at LAX. I, literally, stopped in my tracks when I heard that exclamation of “DON’T FALL”. I had to stop walking immediately and decipher what good that phrase could do for that sprinting first grader. Had he told his mother he was planning on face planting in front of the over crowded airport sized Mc Donalds? Did he need the reminder to not injure himself intentionally? I must have missed something. That phrase… don’t fall. Who does it serve? Does it serve mom by helping her picture her child lip skidding into the newsstand? Does it serve junior by planting a touch of doubt into his joyous flight down the moving sidewalk? Is it leading with fear?
In our concern for others do we embed negativity into our loved ones in order to keep them “safe”. Does our little sprinter need to wipe out in front of the Mc Muffin station in order to learn something about his newly found running skills? Is screaming “don’t fall” interrupting his perfect zen moment of childhood accomplishments and reminding him of the possibility of catastrophe?
We all do it. We say stuff to show our love for someone but sometimes dust it with our own fears, our own subconscious negativity .“Be careful”. “I worry about you.” “DON’T FALL!” Maybe it’s just about switching the script a bit. “Be careful” turns into “You’re so special to me”. “I worry about you” turns into “I think about you a lot”. And “DON’T FALL!” turns into “Run like a goddam champion!” Remove the fear, add the love and maybe we help inspire the next generation to… lead with love instead of fear. Turns out he ran… and he ran like the wind.