Taking a sip of his latte, Ken felt himself relax a bit, the conversation with Jesse had eased some of his tension. He really did love his wife, she was an amazing person, they had a lot of fun together. He knew his struggle was within himself, yet, he seemed unable to figure out what was pestering his psyche, after all, just like he told the magazine, he achieved everything he had set his mind on. According to society, he was a very successful man, who should be incredibly happy. But, he was not.
It was tempting to pull out the magazine, however, he was afraid that it would be seen, or worse yet, he would discover that he really was crazy and the magazine would be a normal stupid publication. Eating his sandwich, he looked around at the people quickly rushing to and fro. The energy at airports was incredibly exhausting to him. People were always in a rush, no one looked you in the eye and it was a powerful example of how detached everyone was as they stared at their devices.
He loved the places he got to visit, but he had to admit that he grew weary of the game. He felt like he was on a treadmill that kept speeding up. There was always pressure to get more buying and supplying clients. He liked his boss and founder of the company John Adams. He was an American man who had become involved in the grocery industry while he was going to college. After he had finished his Bachelors degree in marketing, he had stayed on in the same grocery store, working his way up the ladder. Eventually he ran out of rungs to climb. On a trip to China he had met and fallen in love with his wife, Li Na, the daughter of one of John’s biggest clients in Hong Kong. This changed everything for John, according to his telling of the story. He sold everything and moved to China, marrying Li Na and starting a business with her father as his partner. As Ken played the story out in his mind, he cringed at the thought of being so entangled with family. Due to his unhappy youth, he could not imagine working that closely with anyone he was related to.
Finishing the last bite of his sandwich, he looked at his watch, time to head for the gate. Placing his wrapper in the trash, he gathered his briefcase and rolled his small carry on bag towards the masses of people. Once swallowed by the throng of people, he focused on getting to the right gate and finding a restroom along the way. He took in the shops as he passed by, noticed the different people scurrying past, allowing himself to just be in the present moment. He felt like a tiny ant caught in a torrential down pour, barely clinging to the space he occupied, while people stormed all around him.
Settling into an open seat by the window, he closed his eyes, allowing himself to settle the buzz that encircled him. Again he found himself very grateful that he did not have to stand in the long line like another sheep to board the flight. His frequent flying gave him some very nice perks. Resting his eyes, he just focused on slowly breathing, allowing himself to not care who looked at him funny. He desperately needed the quiet, a part of him wanted to run away, make a mad dash for the door and not tell anyone where he was. Playing with that thought he caught himself smiling at how free that felt. No one to answer to, nothing to do, he could just be.
As his mind relaxed, he felt his body respond in kind. Ken did not have many memories of his childhood, but, for some reason the ones he did have seemed to be haunting him today. They had a common theme, his dad. Opening his eyes, he glanced around the gate area, taking in the people who would be on this plane with him. Most of them were business people, yet there were a couple of families and some young people who looked like they were off to explore. He found himself intrigued by a young family, the man was interacting with a toddler, the child seemed to be around three, Ken thought. The woman was holding a baby who seemed quite mesmerized by her big brother who was giggling and having fun with the dad.
Ken replayed the recent conversation with Jesse. What was it about having children that unsettled him so? It felt like someone was cutting off his oxygen when he imagined having the responsibility of a child. He continued to watch the family, the man leaned over to give his wife, he assumed, a gentle kiss, the scene warmed Ken’s heart. The relationship his parent’s had left a negative image in his mind and heart. He totally understood why his dad had left, he wanted to be loved, appreciated, valued and not attacked all the time. His mom was such an unhappy mean person, what made her that way, he wondered.
“Now boarding our first class and business class passengers,” chimed over the airways, breaking Ken’s reverie. Taking one last look at the family, he stood up, gathered his luggage and went to board the plane. Passing close to the family he listened to the man and woman as they discussed who would take which child, it was nice to hear such a cooperative communication. “It was possible to have a loving relationship that celebrated the addition of children,” he thought as he went through the gate.
Unlike his first flight he had someone in the seat next to him, a middle aged woman in business attire. He really hoped she was not a talker, for he wanted to be quiet with his own thoughts and hoped he could pull out the magazine he had stowed away to see if it was all a dream. Thankfully on these long flights the planes were big, allowing for lots of space especially in the business and first class sections. The flight attendant handed them each bottled water, sneaking her arm in between the people now boarding for the economy section of the plane.
The woman next to Ken put her head back and closed her eyes, whew.., she was going to be a quiet flight partner. He observed her face, noticing that her jaw looked tight, her brow was still slightly furrowed even though she was supposedly resting. As he turned to the window he questioned, “Why, why do we breed a society of stress? What is that all about? It doesn’t make us happier and ultimately it kills us.”
Jesse loved her business, that was part of what attracted him to her. She was passionate, dynamic, vibrantly alive and engaged with her life and career. They interwove with one another, you really couldn’t separate her as a woman from the business she had created. Whereas Ken left his job at the door of his office, often wishing he never had to open it again. He actually felt good about what the company was doing, why they were formed, etc…. It was just that it was not his passion. While there were aspects to it that he loved, like going out to the farms to meet the independent organic growers, the number crunching and constant quest for more suppliers and buyers corrupted the positive aspects.
To be continued… 17