Flying used to do considerably different things to my perception. The cutting contrast sharp, yet not alarming. For instance, in the past, flying domestically on the same day as a show was met with spoiled-brat belly aching, pervading prima donna parallels. I’d huff and I’d puff and I’d blow my manager’s email inbox down. As sand-blasting, throat-parching, and voice-crackling airplane cabin air can be, I find myself complaining less these days. Whether it be a product of maturity, exhaustion, apathy, or a cocktail of all three, I can proudly say that I no longer bitch and moan about day-of-show travel. Nope. These days I’ll use that time to write, reflect, or fall asleep mid-chapter in another futile attempt at reading while in motion. Fuck Ambien. Give me Atlas Shrugged and I’m out like a fat kid in T-Ball before the first “Who is John Galt?” inquiry.
The same usually goes for me with driving. Day or night, rain or shine, behind the wheel I’m liable to go narcoleptic at the blink of a turn signal. As terribly catastrophic as that is, if you’ve ever dozed off while driving, despite every desperate effort to stay awake: (leg pinching, face slapping, windows down in winter, ear piercing stereo levels, hair pulling, talking to yourself, talking to your cell phone, etcetera etcetera). Despite every aforementioned desperate effort, if you for only a split second succumb to the weight of your eye lids and let them drop to your cheeks, then and only then will you know the most satisfying and unrivaled kind of sleep known to man. Perhaps comparable in the animal kingdom to say, hibernation, [or in the real (mortal) world, DEATH.] This split second of sedated sanctuary is the closest to peace you’re likely to get.
Of course this kind of accidental bliss is absolutely destructive to not only yourself but others, AND if you ever feel SLEEP take the upper hand, leaving life, limb, and luxury automobile hanging from the highway, take my advice and pull over. Find a Wendy’s parking lot, unbuckle, recline that driver’s side seat further back than its ever been (since that one crazy night with Suzy-Q), and sleep safely. PASS THE F@#K OUT. Please and Thank You.
Another activity I’ll dive into from time to time whilst 30,000 feet in the air is, yes, conversation. I still have my days, don’t get me wrong, but in the past I’d pull my shades on, clamp my headphones over my disinterested ears and don my best smug-face punim; so as no one, not even the most pleasant, outgoing, kind-hearted soul with Mr. Rogers charm would dare interrupt my devoted isolationism. Lately, if the air is right and the temperature is comforting I’m liable to talk from take-off to landing. Particularly after a few drinks or even more so after a mortality reminder courtesy of heavy turbulence, I’m a regular Star Jones.
Perhaps I’ve dropped some pomp or ego, but I feel more connected and able to relate to people on a level I haven’t been able to before. I’m more interested in other’s concerns and opinions.
Pain and jubilation.
Experiences and perspectives.
Stories of loss and gain.
Of admiration and loathing.
Bias and understanding.
Although I feel a stronger connection with people on an individual level, I find myself falling further from popular concern and cultural shifts. Perhaps brought on by a population’s diminishing attention span or expanding waist band, I don’t know where I fit in the puzzle. As the importance of family and individual relationships grow, I feel as displaced as a peninsula freshly broken from its mainland.
Perhaps yet another product of of our time; turning people into islands one at a time.
How should I respond to that? Build a boat and learn to swim.
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my flight.