1. I flew this weekend back from Michigan with a plane full of small children. Generally, this is not a good thing, but in this case, it was wonderful to be able to eavesdrop on the two girls who sat across from me on the plane. It was a small plane and so they sat in their own row with Mom and brother in the row behind. The weather was a mix of snow and rain and so we had to be de-iced before takeoff. This delighted the girls who thought the plane was going through a car wash. And then we finally turned onto the taxiway. Both girls squealed in delight, their delight growing as we ascended up into the clouds and then rose above the clouds. I remembered when things were new: flying, driving, traveling. It always was exciting. How did I lose that? And how do I get it back? Seeing through the eyes of a child reminds me to savor experiences, to delight in the little things.
2. I have hit the jackpot with taxi drivers. The two in Michigan who got me to and from the airport were great tour guides to start. They praised their city of Grand Rapids. They thanked me for teaching. They asked questions; they recommended books. They asked for book recommendations for their own children.
3. Taxi also means: (of an aircraft) move slowly along the ground before takeoff or after landing. A taxi is a building up at the beginning of the flight. There are a few bumps as the aircraft builds up the speed and then lifts up, climbing into the sky. This sort of taxi is a perfect analogy for conferences like the Michigan Reading Association Conference from last week. There were a few bumps but then, there we were, up in that rarefied air where we get to hang out with incredibly smart folks. Hugs, waves from across the room, shouts of surprise, smiles: it is uplifting. It is just like soaring. But then, there is the other taxi, the one when the plane hits the ground and heads to the gate. That return to reality is bittersweet. The sweet is retuning home to your own bed and the people you love. It is having Scout dance and practically leap into your arms to welcome you home. But it is also a sort of letdown when, the next morning, you have to get your own coffee and breakfast, where no one is your "helper" asking what they can do for you. When you have to put on the big girl pants and tackle laundry.
But, as my friend Donalyn Miller says, these conferences sustain us. They remind us how much we have yet to learn. They help us refine our own thinking. They energize us. Thanks, MRA, for the boost and the taxis.