My flight going home got delayed due to inclement weather. I was already at the airport when the airline announced this blaringly on the paging system. While waiting for flight updates, my phone's battery squealed begging for it to be plugged to a charging station. Around thirty minutes later in the charging area, I heard another passenger to my back let out a sigh of exasperation while softly mumbling "Paano na to?!" (What will I do now?). Apparently, she couldn't charge her battery-dead phone because her charger had prongs incompatible with what we have in the Philippines.
I heard the gears of my mind screeching to a halt and I could hear the Dalai Lama whispering the words "compassion for others". You see, just this morning, I was a reading a book on happiness that he co-authored. In my mind, I replied to the Dalai Lama, "Why not?" When I turned back, she was already nowhere to be found. Decided to turn this opportunity into an act of compassion, I waved my adapter in the air making sure that people nearby see it. True enough, she saw it and approached me with a mixture of smile and teary eyes.
We talked for a while while we were both waiting for our phones to charge. From that brief conversation, I learned that she is an OFW in Saudi Arabia and has not been back to the Philippines for two straight years out of a need to adequately support her family. That explains why her phone's charger is incompatible with Philippine power outlets; she bought her phone abroad. She desperately needed to charge her phone so that she could talk to her welcoming party in Davao. When I asked her who were waiting for her at her airport of destination, she looked away as she answered that her two kids were waiting for her. She hasn't seen them since she left for Saudi. Clearly, she veered her eyes away from me as an attempt to hide her misty eyes. She failed because an emotion as honest and raw as that could not be easily concealed. To lighten up the mood, I asked her if she is excited to see her kids. Her face immediately lit up and she replied "Sobrang excited ko na hindi ko na nararamdaman ang gutom!" (I'm so excited to see my kids that I don't even feel hungry at all!)
Stories like this make me well up with emotions. Stories of sacrifices borne out of love, of hopes, and dreams.
I read from Dalai Lama's book that in order to feel compassion for others, we need to look at other people as individuals who are just like us. And to strengthen our compassion for others, we must try to know their background. I guess my experience is what he meant when he said that we all need to be more compassionate to one another.
After a while, it was announced that my flight was already boarding. I offered to give her my adapter but she said she was okay. I did my best to keep the conversation as long as I could so she could continue charging her phone. When I saw from afar that the queue for boarding was gone, I knew I had to run to the gate to catch my flight. I didn't mind the running. Every step of that sprint from the charging station to the boarding gate was worth it. Compassion is priceless.