Conversations On a Plane: Ode to Jetstar

This weekend I travelled alone and flew to Christchurch for an Amnesty International Hui. Let’s just say that my 11:30 am flight was delayed, then cancelled and so I had to change my flight and then it was delayed again. Because of the fog in Christchurch, I had to wait at the airport for six hours. Rather than getting pissed at the world or at Jetstar for their bad customer service, I changed it to an opportunity for me to do my assignment.

I had to remind myself that sometimes we do face times where things do not go how we want it to but we need to be resilient by responding rather than reacting. By responding we could achieve things that we thought that we could never achieve or progress in. But by reacting we do not achieve anything and it could make the situation a whole lot worse or stagnant.

Nonetheless, I must also say that it is rather interesting to talk to strangers or ask for a stranger’s help. As a child, we have always been told to not talk to strangers. It’s only because our intuition as children about people are not yet developed and as we age, it does (well hopefully). I must admit that I am naive at times and I am too trusting and that I don’t ‘judge a book by its cover’ but I am still cautious when it comes to talking to strangers. As a rule, I only do so when I am in a busy environment with a variety of other people and that they could hear me when I do.

Since I was travelling alone, I had asked a couple of people to look after my luggage for a short while. One time I had asked a lady with big curly hair who was on her laptop to look after my stuff while I went to get coffee nearby. Little did I know that I would be sitting right next to her on the plane and I am so grateful that I did.

While on the plane, I noticed that she was writing in a journal and I asked if she was writing poetry. She was. The delays and the cancellation of her flight inspired her to write a new poem called: ‘Ode to Jetstar’. It turned out that she was a published poet and that she was invited to perform in Christchurch. Not only was she invited to perform in Christchurch but she was invited to perform a poem in front of Queen Elizabeth the Second in England in 2016. Then from the beginning of the flight until we landed at Christchurch, we were talking and discussing a range of things endlessly. And I loved every minute of it.

The lovely lady I met was Selina Tusitala Marsh and she is a Samoan where her last name ‘Tusitala’ means storytelling. Later on in her life, she realised her last name fits perfectly with her truth in life because her collection of poems tells a story. She is also a lecturer at Auckland University and has been a TEDx speaker.

We talked about identity, indigenous people, culture and ethnicity, cultural-clashes, stereotyping, stigma, how we need to change the perspectives of people and what we could do to be agents of change and empowerment. We also discussed being creative, consistent and getting published and what publishers are looking for as well as other amazing poets or poems that we love. In general, we talked about a lot of interesting topics that really resonates with me. By the end of our conversation, I was really enlightened and I was also grateful to have met an inspiring as well as an empowering woman. In fact, I aspire to be like her.

Although we were tired from the long day waiting at the airport, we appreciated being able to laugh and talk about things that we were both passionate about by the end of the night. It reminded me to appreciate like-minded or inspiring people because they remind me of the values and the truths that I have.

I think that it is so crucial to meet like-minded and inspiring people because sometimes you surround yourself with people that won’t help you get anywhere in life and this is so true for many young people. Sometimes you need to ask yourself if the people you are with are serving you or stopping you from achieving your full potential. But maybe you should ask yourself if you are that friend or stranger that gives people a new perspective on life or if you are that person who lifts people up, rather than putting them down.

Selina Tusitala Marsh was selected to perform a poem in front of the Queen: