Flights are special spaces, white noise roaring in your ears, a specific location designated for your body, food and drinks provided on a schedule, a shared schedule for lighting readjusting a collective circadian rhythm for a few hundred people. In the midst of the flight there is contemplation, wonder, thought. I am in an interstitial space. In theory, the screen says, I am above Siberia, or Greenland, or Idaho, or California. In theory, below the cloud carpet is a wholly non-abstract place. But right now, this is all there is, special spaces, timeless moments, where the clock is all shaken, stopped, fast forwarded. On the plane, I am another.
What does it mean to get older? What is the term for ‘being the age at which your parents had you as a child’? Recently I listened to a song, and the lyrics were speaking about how, as the singer got older, her emotions became richer and complex, while her ability to share them diminished and shrank. What does it mean to hold universes and lifetimes within your mind, so that your inner world starts to be like a society, and the conflicts you see between people in your outer world also are visible as conflicts you see between entities in your inner world?
Where is the edge of conflict? When you see the wake of a larger ship passing by, when do you turn into the wake, push into the wave? When do you surf, coasting on the wave, finding a shared moment between you and the wave? When do you belong, hold, push, share?
Maybe a lesson I want to engage in more is the practice of pushing into things, turning into the wake, submerging myself, getting ready to be unearthed and upended, entering turmoil, braving the storm, but without a desire to surf, nor to surrender, nor to fight. There are other ways to live in the ocean that isn’t about giving into its waves, or collaborating with them, or fighting them. Sometimes, the ocean is what it is, and you build wave breakers, sand bars, create piers, land formations, boats. The ocean is respected, understood, not blamed. It will be what it is. Are we against it, or for it? Does it matter?
Neither ‘rolling with it’, nor ‘rebellion’, nor ‘acclimation’. Maybe it’s what happens when you watch your friends break up, and hold your care for both of them while you also respect the depth of their anguish and sadness.
When this flight lands, I think, I will do this, and that. Maybe I’m always on a flight. Maybe I’m always landing, and taking off. Maybe the ecological world inside of me is developed enough to release the ocean from my blame against it, maybe I have grown to accept its intensity and storm surges and calm beaches alike, maybe I respect the depth of its tempest while I hold my care for it, hold my care for myself. Maybe this is what it’s like to get older — to find myself holding ecologies inside of my body, whether I like it or not, full of microcosms, closed worlds, open worlds, universes, teeming with interactions and life. Gently poked with a needle, solar systems, ecologies, coral reefs tumble out of my skin onto the ground, gushing and pooling out. Ecologies of emotions model my understanding and non-understanding of social personal familiar friend relationships in ways I do not understand and cannot articulate.
Above this all, occasionally I take a flight above my own earth and ecology, take a moment to breathe, adjust my seatbelt, and look down onto the ground. So, I think, this is my earth. This is the ground. Look how my city looks! Look how that river looks! How can something so familiar look so strange?
That’s what flight travel is like.