As life unfolds, occasionally something significant happens that teaches me a lesson. It's a moment of understanding-a resonance-that takes me by surprise. For example, thinking about JFK’s assassination instantly transports me back to my elementary school. Time stood still as we grieved over the death of a beloved president. I lost some of my innocence that day, and felt less safe.
I remember holding my first daughter in my arms after giving birth. She triggered a burning desire in me to improve myself so I could take care of her. I instantly grew up that day.
I can still hear the roar of the crowd that lined Lakewood Boulevard to view a hand-off of the 1984 Olympic torch on its way to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. We cheered with gusto as the runners passed the torch. That day taught me about community pride.
I viewed a total solar eclipse off the island of Aruba in 1998. I can still feel the eerie twilight caused by the moon passing between the earth and sun. I recall minutes of silence as chills flowed through my body. I sensed a divine presence all around me that day.
Passing through the 100-year-old Panama Canal, triggered one of those moments. From my room, I saw several things as we approached the canal: a picture-worthy sunrise, the Panama City skyline, at least fifty vessels waiting for a turn to pass through the locks. I glanced up and down the ship as fellow passengers returned my smile.
Suddenly, I wanted to be with the crowd. I dressed quickly and scurried out of my cabin, heading to the ship’s bow. The staff provided coffee, tea, and Panama Rolls, a sweet delicacy, as we gathered to view the transit. I chatted with several engineers who placed seeing this man-made wonder high on their bucket list. I met a woman who had traveled through the canal twice before because she liked it so much. “Wait until we pass through the first three locks, and reach Gatun Lake,” she said. “You’ll love how peaceful it is.”
I conversed with people from Australia, Canada, England, South Africa, and the United States about all kinds of things that morning. We bonded through our curious minds, mutual love of travel, and enjoyment of Panama rolls. The hum of anticipation filled the air as we approached the first lock. Then, cameras started clicking wildly as if paparazzi had spotted a famous movie star.
It’s difficult to articulate how I felt during the transit except to say I had a moment of resonance. Passing through each lock, experiencing it with others, reminded me of our shared humanity. We took a break from talking about politics, war, and terrorists to focus on something truly astounding.
If nations can come together to build a masterpiece like the Panama Canal, just imagine what we can continue to achieve if we look beyond our differences. This day renewed some hope for me.
Photo credit: Linda Sudduth