04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Everyone Is of Value

We're always passing so many people every day in our lives. I am especially aware of this fact whenever I travel, and two questions faithfully re-visit me every time I enter an airport:

"Who are all these people?" and "Where is everybody going?"

We rarely acknowledge one another anymore, and I know for many, a simple "Hello" or "How are you?" isn't even on their radar, let alone in their comfort zone. That's never really been an issue for me; in fact, I think it was my dad who used to say "Jimmy never meets a stranger." It's funny, because the thing I remember most about my father's restaurant isn't how I went from washing dishes, to busing and waiting tables, or even the food ~ it was the two swinging doors you had to go through to enter. Engraved in them were the words, "Strangers Meet, Friends Depart." And I always thought, "but only if you let them in your heart."

I think today we're all so careful about whom we "let in our heart," we often times pass by the very person who might truly open it.

We're moving into an age where personal contact is sadly becoming a lost art. Even the check-in at the airport is now done by a computer and I can't help but think of all the moments of the heart we will miss out on.

I've never been the most cyber savvy person, and so it didn't surprise me too much today when I was unable to obtain my ticket via the self check-in. So I waited in line and I met a girl named Karen, who proceeded to help me obtain my ticket. I asked her how she was and something interesting happened. She actually paused for a moment, looked into my eyes and she knew it wasn't just an idle pleasantry, but that I actually I meant it. Before my ticket was printed, she told me she had put her dad on life support and when her eyes filled with tears, I extended my hand and after I told her I understood just how precious every day was, I felt a genuine connection of the heart.

As I was walking through the terminal, passing Phillips Seafood and Fuddruckers, Johnston & Murphy and Brookstone, and all the people coming and going about me, I found myself thinking about how many of them might be suffering like Karen, and how easy it is for us all to be so unaware. We rush so fast to get from point A to point B; I think we might sometimes miss out on the whole point of the journey.

Maybe the destination we are all in such a hurry to get to isn't really the reason for our travel at all ... Maybe we're meant to extend a genuine hello or a warm hand to all the "Karens" we tend to pass by.

Whenever life gets too serious or should I say, whenever I take myself too seriously, it's always a nice reminder to remember that everyone is of value and traveling provides us with such a too-often-missed opportunity to see that sometimes, the person we're so quickly passing by, may very well be our next great teacher...

If we let them.