I was flying from MSP to PHX on my way back to Los Angeles when all of this took place. Gotta love them layovers:)
Side note: The fact that I even got on that flight is proof of God’s graciousness. I totally looked at the wrong time and missed my first flight, arrived at the airport at 4:20 (impressive driving skills Dad!) hoping to make the 4:50 flight via standby, walked through security with no one else in sight, and was able to get one of two remaining seats. Thank you Jesus!
Back to the original plot line- I really enjoy flying Southwest, but the awkward part is that you have to choose who you’re sitting next to rather than randomly being assigned. Thankfully, because I was one of the last ones on the plane, my options were limited. I ended up asking a man with a cowboy hat and awesome mustache if I could squeeze in next to him.
I was fascinated by Cowboy Man. At one point I blurted out, “You are the coolest real cowboy I’ve ever seen!” Cowboy Man just chuckled. He smelled like years of smoke… not like in the overwhelming you clearly smoke a pack a day way, but like the you’ve-been-around-a-lot-of-smoke-all-your-life way. He was a thick man, built like a rock, with hands that seemed to be pure muscle (you didn’t know hands could be muscular right? Me either! But his hands were like three times the thickness of mine…). The deep lines in his face were traces of all the storms he had weathered throughout his lifetime.
Initially, I was sleeping so I missed out on the snacks that the flight attendants offered. I watched him chomp on the Cheese Nips and sweet peanuts with envy. As soon as the flight attendant passed, I asked her if I could get some snacks. Trying to find a way to make conversation, I said, “You made those snacks look so good.” (In retrospect, it sounds stupid – but at the time it seemed like a good thing to say.)
He chuckled again and said, “Awe shucks.” My heart melted. I loved this guy.
I asked him a few questions about being a cowboy. He always responded with just a few words, never really elaborating… and my fascination and curiosity seemed to just grow and grow.
The rest of the flight, I mostly read- praying for an opportunity to talk more. I felt like this man had treasure troves of experiences and stories and wisdom. Every so often he would look over at my book, or at what I was doing. But, at one point I realized, we did not speak the same language. I feel like perhaps we were both perplexed by each other, but did not have the words to explain our lives to each other in a way that would make sense.
As we left the plane, I took one last look at his boots and hat and prayed that he would know God’s love. I also noticed he walked out of the plane with nothing. Everyone else was juggling bags and papers, and he calmly walked out empty handed. Who travels without anything? He didn’t read a book the whole time… He seemed content in his own thoughts.
I can’t really explain why I felt the need to write about this guy or why I was so captivated by him. I guess maybe because he was like no one else on the plane… and no one else that I have ever encountered. He stuck out from his surroundings. He did not conform. He had a quiet confidence that was exuded simply by his boldness in wearing and living the way he knew. I hope to be like that someday. Confident in my God and who He’s created me to be, exuding His glory, unashamed of the Gospel… and willing and able to pull off wearing a cowboy hat and boots as I walk through the airport with nothing else needed.
And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. -2 Corinthians 9:8, AMP