Editor's note: This corrects the spelling of Crissy Brooks' first name.
This past weekend, as I headed home from Chicago, a flight delay stranded me inside a packed airport terminal.
As I waited for my flight, the kid next to me crawled all over the seat.
"Is this your first time on a plane?" I asked him.
"Yes," he said, turning around in the seat to face me.
Then he asked me back, "Have you been on a plane before?"
And so started our conversation. He was taking his first plane ride and was on his way to a first visit to Disneyland.
No wonder he was bouncing off the seats.
In my attempt to keep him occupied, I told him that there are many songs about California.
At that, he stood up in the seat, raised his arms and sang out, "California! California!"
It was his own song, his tune, his voice. He plopped back down in the chair, pulled his knees to his chest and looked up at me.
"Are you a kid or a grownup?" he asked me sincerely.
"What do you think?" I responded with a wry smile.
"Hmmmmmmm," he examined me, "a kid."
His brother piped in to correct him, "No, she's a grown up."
"Ok," he told his brother and turned back to me, "but you look like a kid."
I smiled at the thought. Earlier that morning I had been plucking gray hairs. In the car window on the ride to the airport, I had noticed the wrinkles beginning on my face.
I had turned away in resignation to engage in a conversation with a friend about her dissertation.
She was talking about the things that make up the story of our lives: the praxis — the way we live; the theoria —the reasons, whether subtle or stated, that dictate how we live, and then with a twinkle in her eye my friend went on to talk about poesies' — all that shapes the mystery and beauty and makes our lives poetic.
We talked about how in only focusing on what we do and why, we often miss the beauty and joy that transforms us.
I thought of this as my fellow little passenger stared up, trying to figure out if I'm a kid or a grownup. His conundrum spoke to my own tension between childhood and maturity.
His simple question gave me great joy and challenged me to simply live in the poesies of my life. It made me want to stand on my chair, arms raised and sing my own song.
But I didn't. I stayed seated in the blue vinyl seat, while my new friend somersaulted out of his seat onto the floor.
A few seats over, my colleague and traveling companion snapped her fingers loudly, eyes closed, lost in the music streaming through her headphones — poesy.
A woman walked by me with a dog, babies reaching out to pet it — poesy. And in that moment everything different was delightful.
The chorus of my favorite song belts out, "I want to add to the beauty, to tell a different story…"
And still I sit in the blue vinyl chair. I wonder when I will fully live into the beauty and delight of this life. When will I fully embrace what makes life worth living — poesy? Don't be surprised if you see me standing on a chair, arms raised, singing my own song someday soon.
CRISSY BROOKS is executive director of Mika Community Development Corporation in Costa Mesa, where she lives.