Lisa and I had to get on a flight unexpectedly this weekend to visit someone we love. And yesterday, we flew home. As we took off and got up over Dallas, we were pin-balling around in some terrible turbulence. The kind that makes you close your eyes, collapse into yourself, and get really quiet; the turbulence that turns even the staunchest atheist into a prayer warrior.
In that moment, the teenager next to us, with whom we had not yet shared a word, turned and said very intensely, “I need you to talk to me right now.” He went on: “I have terrible anxiety, and this is my first time to ever fly alone, and this turbulence is messing with me. I need you to talk to me right now!”
And so we started talking.
“Hi, I’m Lisa. And this is my husband, Daniel. And we are going to be your best friends for the next 90 minutes. We are so proud of you for telling us what you need! That took a lot of courage and we’d be proud of our own kids for taking the risk you took. We’re all going to be okay, and we’re here for you, so just tell us what you need.”
He told us his name is Braden and that he’s 16, and that he plays the guitar, ukelele and piano. And he told us that he’d just finished recording his first album. I told him that I’ve spent my life recording music, too, and I asked him if he had an album on him that I could buy. He pulled one out of his backpack, signed it, and gave it to me. And I reached into my backpack and gave him all of our traveling cash.
But here’s the most important thing, something that Braden can teach all of us: when you need help from people, take the risk and ask for it. “I need you to talk to me right now.”
When life gets turbulent, we tend to close our eyes and collapse inward and get really quiet. But, no, that won’t work! Braden shows us a better way. Look around, open up, put yourself out there, and ask for help.
Yesterday with Braden was holy ground. It was one of the most beautiful conversations we’ve had in a long time. And it’s because someone took the risk of being honest. So be like Braden and take the risk. His book is Chasing Wisdom: The Lifelong Pursuit of Living Well.