Last week, I reached out to a family friend to ask for a ride to the airport. I felt a bit guilty, because we’ve lost touch with each other since our sons went to college to years ago. But I knew his Google office was right across the street from the airport, so I decide to ask anyway. Always the nicest guy, he responded, “Of course!” As we drove to the airport this morning, he talked about the difficult year his family had just had – two family deaths, one very unexpected and sudden of a 59-year-old sibling; moving his dad into a care center while bringing his mom to live with them; his wife’s mother, living several hours away, in need of constant attention since her husband’s death earlier in the year; all this sorrow intermingled with their joy that both their sons are thriving in college and my friend and his wife yearning to enjoy their empty next despite the many family crises. The conversation was so enriching, and we feel re-connected even after all this time away. As we hugged good-bye at the airport, we made plans to meet soon for dinner and conversation. On that short drive, a friendship was re-forged. I’m so glad I asked for a ride to the airport!
Awaiting my airport’s departure, I wandered the concourse and saw Lyft’s newest airport advertising campaign, “Get a Ride From the Airport Without Owing Anyone a Favor.” Yesterday, that ad might have tempted me to be independent and self-sufficient next time I need an airport ride. But today, I am reminded that owing someone a favor connects us together. Asking for help builds relationships. Receiving a ride to the airport became a gift of friendship re-forged. Giving and receiving keeps us in relationship with people who need us and people whom we need. In a world where isolation and disconnection are perhaps the two greatest threats to our health and well-being, let’s embrace the gifts of both receiving and giving. Ask for a favor. Owe a favor. Let interdependence expand our hearts and deepen our loving connections with one another.