My “Chance Encounter” With a Celebrity…

This past fall I was at the airport ready to fly to New York for a weekend conference that I was really looking forward to. Not only was it going to be a great conference, but I was travelling on my own which has become a new found love of mine. As I was sitting at my gate, waiting for the announcement to start boarding the flight, I thought it would be a good time to make a quick trip to the washroom. As I was coming out, I saw a gentleman going into the men’s washroom who looked very familiar. I took a second look but he was gone. I could have sworn it was a celebrity I admired but I was not certain. So, I did what any normal human being would do, I stood outside the washroom waiting for him to come out to confirm my suspicion.

When he came out of the washroom, he was on his cell phone. Since I could not approach him, I decided to follow him. I could hear his English accent and I noticed his limp so now I was certain it was him! He was still on his phone when he stopped walking, so I made myself look interested in the books located at a nearby vendor’s booth. Now this is the part in my story where my kids accuse me of being a stalker. I never thought of myself as a stalker. I do know that I would not make a good spy because I soon became interested in several books and then looked up to see he was gone! Dang it! Those darn books! Now in a panic, I walked around trying relocate him. I spotted him sitting in a restaurant with a young lady. Was that his daughter? His personal assistant? Do I approach them? What if I am wrong? What do I do? I asked for a sign and it soon arrived. The young lady got up, walked out of the restaurant and was heading my way! I stopped her and said “Excuse me, but by any chance is that Sir Ken Robinson you are sitting with?”

Now let me pause here as you may not know Sir Ken Robinson. However, if you are at all interested in education reform, then you may very well know him. He has one of the most highly viewed TED Talks entitled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”. I have watched this several times and every time I get something more out of it. I have watched several more of his talks and this one explains how our present education system came about and the need for a new education paradigm.

So back to the airport… this young lady smiled at me and said “Yes, but I just heard our flight to New York was cancelled, I will be right back and then I can introduce you to him”. I watched her walk over to my gate and my heart sunk as NEW YORK was no longer on the screen. As it was registering in my head that my flight too had been cancelled, she came back and quickly walked me into the restaurant. As we approached their table she said “Ken, this lovely lady just asked me if I was sitting with Sir Ken Robinson!” He looked up with a warm smile and said “Indeed you are, that would be me” and offered me his hand. I suddenly had some sort of “Celebrity Syndrome” set in as I felt tongue tied and not worthy of his time. I then decided not to believe that thought and instead decided I was very worthy of this opportunity. I shared that I was a teacher and completely agreed with the need for new paradigms within our education system, particularly in order to make improvements for students who struggle behaviourally. During my time as a Special Ed teacher I discovered there are many smart kids who are struggling in school. Their biggest struggle being their self image as a learner. We had a lovely chat and then his assistant reminded me that they needed to make other flight arrangements. I took that as my cue to leave and suddenly remembered that I too needed to make other arrangements as well. I thanked them for their time and raced off to find the Air Canada service desk.

After a long wait in line, I was told they could not get me to New York until the next day. That was too late. When I realized I was not going to New York, I felt tears of deep disappointment start to rise. Then I stopped myself as suddenly the thought arouse: Wait, you don’t have time to cry, you need to get back to Sir Ken and give him your business card! I raced back to the restaurant telling myself to trust that if he is still there, wonderful and if he is not, wonderful. Whatever is best will happen. When I walked in, they were just packing up to leave. I rushed over and handed him my business card and said “If there is anything I can do to support your work in Canada, please let me know”. He thanked me and mentioned a Minds Up Curriculum that he was part of creating - which I had recently been handed copies of! I assured him I was familiar with it and shared how I teach Mindfulness as well. He said he may be able to put me in touch with someone and slipped the card in his pocket. After a quick photo, I left the restaurant with a smile of gratitude. Even though I was no longer going to New York, I got to meet one of my education idols. I could have chosen to feel like a victim that my flight was cancelled and now I had a long list of calls and emails to make to cancel hotels, shuttles, conferences and lots of paperwork to claim refunds. Instead, I told myself that being in Terminal One, gate 37, only to turn around and go home, was worth it because I got to meet Sir Ken Robinson.

Has anything more come of our meeting? No, not that I am aware of. Will something more come of it? I can’t know for sure. I am a great believer in everything happens for a reason. So, I will trust and be open to what may come of my celebrity meet up: an email? a contact person? another encounter with Sir Ken? or will this simply be about being grateful, inspired and motivated from my “chance encounter” with a celebrity? I will continue to be in a state of gratitude and trust, all while staying open to inspired feelings and signs of action. All is well.

Jill McPhersonComment