For some years now, as part of my reflections on the western society of which I am a part I have referred to “The Air Hostess’s Smile”. It is a smile which accompanies her question, “Do you want anything from the tray” or “I hope you enjoyed your flight”. It offers nothing real, is only skin deep and should not be taken personally. In other words it is largely without content. In many situations we live on a diet of corporate intimacy. Smiles without warmth, praise without stamina.
If someone says, “Have a nice Day” and you stop by them and say. “That is so moving. You don’t even know me and yet you wish me that. Such generosity of spirit. Such warmth. And you do it to everyone you say goodbye to; You must have an incredible soul” They would look at you as though you had slipped your moorings, lost your grip on reality and ceased to be a member of the mentally ordered society”. In short you would be considered “Bonkers”.
Should you read the small print issued on the back of the flight ticket it might include the words. “Any praise or compliment offered by this airline in the course of its commercial dealings with you: is for display purposes only. It is not personal and implies no approval of, or recognition for, your character”.
In the same way I have come across people revealing their secret thoughts and fears in a way which is moving and disturbing. According to some ancient instinct one is moved to give them a hug or write to them personally telling them you hear them and you will not let them down. Of course they are not talking to you: they are talking to life and the comment, though personal, is not addressed to you. They are just Howling at the Moon.