Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

the guy in the airport: a lesson in lagniappe ~

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I travel to the  Portland, Oregon airport a lot. My older son & his wife live in Portland, my younger son in  Lake Oswego , and my best friend in Tillamook. It’s one of the nicer American airports I’ve been in: clean, full of light (even in the grey rain of Oregon). Great bookstores (Powell’s, of course), great coffee (Coffee People), nice people. And sometimes, a little bit of lagniappe.

Like the time I saw the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. Waiting at my Southwest gate. And humming! Or the time I ran into a colleague from long ago & far away — more than 20 years ago, 1/2 way across the continent.


But my favourite is walking in to the Portland terminal, from check-in, to see a young man playing cello. Cello! Not a guitar, or even fiddle. But cello ~ warm breath of an instrument, dark honey in the ear.

I stood mesmerised for minutes, just listening. These days air travel is a royal pain, but the Portland airport is better than most. You can even do real shopping at either Powell’s or The Real Mother Goose. But that day, I just sat in a happy haze, slightly drunk on cello music. I think I even called someone, to share the serendipity.


The whole city is like that — full of happy accidents that you have to be there for. A new experiment (always successful) at the Farmer’s Market, in one of the bakery stalls. Beer flights in the hotel lobby, for free. Free hot chocolate samples at the chocolatier down the street from the hotel.  And always, music.

Lagniappe – that little bit extra you don’t expect. I’m taking that as today’s lesson in beginner’s heart. Give more than folks expect, and do it with a grin. Like the guy in the airport, playing his heart out. So gifted ~ and unexpected ~ that the old man also watching began to ghost-fret his own cello, eventually engaging the younger man in an animated conversation about technique, composers, and serendipity. And lagniappe.



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