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This post has nothing to do with travel to Africa.  Directly, anyway. Though it has everything to do with taking this time to travel with my Mother now.  This is a personal journal entry I wrote on a flight back from North Carolina last January about a woman I met, and how she helped me learn a bit more about myself. I wanted to share this personal story after reading a quote from Vice President Joe Biden to Yale graduates after his son's death from cancer the prior day.  In the speech, he said, "It's not all that difficult, folks, to be compassionate when you've been the beneficiary of compassion in your lowest moments ... because when you know how much it meant to you, you know how much it mattered," Biden said. "It's not hard to be compassionate."  I think he is right. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Compassion “Would you like one”? The young woman next to me on the flight between Raleigh and Philadelphia offers me a one of her Goldfish crackers. She has pulled it out of her bag after she realized that the airlines don't even offer peanuts anymore on a flight, and now she's meditatively putting them in her mouth one at a time. “No, thank you”, I say. I have let my I-pad rest against my lap, and am sitting back in my seat.  I'm letting her talk.  I'm listening, occasionally offering something in response.   But mostly I'm allowing myself to be the kind stranger this woman is so clearly searching for at this moment. Barbara is young.  And beautiful with long dark hair and thin sculpted features.  She speaks softly, and with an openness and sensitivity that radiates vulnerability. Her Grandmother has just died and she is heading back for the funeral.  She talks about her Grandmother’s sudden illness - throat cancer – and her death