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What are Your Priorities?

I’m always amazed at what you can hear and see in airports.

Last week, I had was rerouted after the LAX shooter fiasco. I was supposed to arrive in LA 4 hours after the shooter killed a TSA employee and wounded several others at the airport.

IMG_0906A compassionate Southwest Airlines employee took heart over the rerouting that caused me to miss a day with my daughter, who I’m lucky to see during her California college years. Hearing that I would be missing a day of the two we were supposed to spend together, the employee rebooked me on a flight a day later at no extra charge. My daughter had planned a vegan tour of LA restaurants, and then we went on a spectacular, breath-taking hike at a park near the Hollywood sign.

I never realized how high up that sign was. She figured we hiked about 4 miles. No running records set there. I was so grateful to have the extra day with her, as she was with me. My flight out of LAX wasn’t scheduled to leave until 2. I had the shuttle pick me up at 9. I figured there would be delays in security as the result of the shooter. En route, I sat next to a woman who was heading back to South Africa after attending a conference of Paleontologists. I stuck to her like glue since my next book will be dealing with interpretations of how we really ate during Paleolithic times. She had everybody in the van hanging on her words.

She said she was working on her PhD on how reptiles evolved into mammals. She described many archeological digs and excavating remains of these early mammals. She said remains show how reptiles began developing different throats and nasal passages to allow for mammalian babies to swallow and drink mother’s milk without choking. She said that you could thread a string from a reptile’s mouth all the way through his nose and not encounter obstacles. Not so with mammals. Fascinating stuff.

IMG_0911She referred me to a few books that go into greater detail. She said that the question is still unanswered about why human brains started growing larger and increasing intelligence. Is it the meat or the heating of food that caused it? She said it is a classic chicken/egg scenario. Were humans already smart enough they developed tools to “catch” prey? Or was it the eating of meat or heating food allowing for better caloric and nutrient absorption that caused our brains to grow larger? And then that allowed humans to figure out how to develop sophisticated meat-catching tools?

While standing in the line to go through security, another woman and I began talking to a third woman who told us that she was the mother of the best friend of the wife of the TSA employee who had been shot. She told us that her daughter and the friend, who work for a movie studio, were watching TV when the daughter said, “That’s your husband’s photo they’re showing on the news!”
The friend drove the wife to the hospital, where it was eventually confirmed to the wife that it was indeed her husband who had been shot. She said they couldn’t find out anything for the first three hours, including that the TSA officer had already been sent to the hospital, and that he was still alive before the transport.

IMG_0939“I had to pick out the coffin,” the woman said, tears welling up in her eyes, “This is the first time I’ve shared any of this.” She said that TSA and the movie studio were handling expenses and being helpful. She kept sharing more details and the other woman kept saying, “Wow, you couldn’t make this stuff up. Just when you think it couldn’t get any more bizarre.” I encouraged the mom or her daughter to share their story with the media, if they wanted. She said a trust fund had been set up. I told her she needed to get publicity if she wanted people to know about the fund, and that the window of time for media interest would soon close. She seemed grateful for the advice and we all parted ways. Events like this always make us count our blessings and try empathize the pain of what others must feel. I’ve asked in social media, “Why are more of these events happening?” Many speculate, but the overwhelming response has been, “We need to study why.”

-From the Anna Maria Island Sun column week of 11/11/13, “Feasting on Fitness.” Ellen Jaffe Jones is a certified personal trainer and running coach, and national speaker with her current bestsellers, “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day,” and “Kitchen Divided-Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households.” She does training/vegan lifestyle coaching in person and via Skype, and can be reached by clicking “contact.”