The security line was not that long considering it was the regular commuting time. Travel for me is easy having in the past four years flown dozens of times. This time, I had my 15-year-old son in tow for an international trip. All the details of getting us both to our destination had my head spinning. Passports? Check. Tickets? Check. Was this the right day we were traveling? Check. It is funny all the things that were running through my head.
There was one detail that had slipped my attention. And it was the most important one of all.
Several years ago my friend started a tradition. We had experienced something remarkable together. To signify that moment he had taken a rock from a high mountain top from where we had climbed together and at a critical time handed it to me and said, “don’t forget who you are.” At crucial times he has continued to return to that same spot, finding more of those rocks. He gives them to me right at the moments I need to remember. About a month ago he handed me another one as I was about to speak to a large group of men. The topic was all about identity, knowing who they truly are.
As my son and I neared the body scanner, the TSA agent asked me if I had anything in my pockets. Checking my pockets was instinctual. “Of course, I don’t have anything in my pockets,” I thought. But teaching my son always to check I patted my pockets down and instructed him to as well. In my side pocket was something about the size of a walnut. What in the world could it be? Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the rock my friend had given me. I had not worn these pants since that day. The agent, seeing the rock said “that’s ok, just hold it in your hand as you are scanned.” So there I was in the body scanner holding my rock high above my head, remebering of who I was.
None of the other details mattered now. And what my son needed most from me was for me to be myself. He needed me to be present and attentive. He needed me to be his dad.