Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Turbulence and happiness checks

I fly a lot. Maybe not as often as my fellow Diamond Medallion travellers, but still a lot. Upon leaving the Azores, my dad teased me about being "an experienced flyer" because I had my laptop and liquids ready for X-Ray before he took his jacket off. Yup, my weird thing to boast about is clearing security in under two minutes (NEXUS helps a lot here too). I feel really comfortable in airports, they are like these bastions of life neutrality for me, especially during layovers - nobody knows me here, nobody knows where I am going or where I came from, nobody, frankly, cares, and neither do I, because I am in the no man's land - not quite home, but not quite at my destination either. It temporarily clears me of all responsibility, problems, morals even. I work on the go, sure, but I almost do not exist when I'm in transit. I love this feeling. This, I think, prepares me to arrive: to let go of the place I left and arrive into my new or not-so-new destination, focus on the life I am about to start leading, be it for three days or for two months. But when it is time for my plane to finally take off, when the chassis stop touching the tarmac, I always battle the emotion that used to be fear and that now is just exhilarating tinge of worry.

Funny, right? At this age and stage of my travel life, when I jump aboard a plane, what seems like, every week, it is silly to get anxious about flying, about the plane going into steep turns, about turbulence. Yet, I confess, I still do. It is not fear of flying per se; I love flying, but I still get these jolts of adrenaline when the plane I am on jumps and shakes. Sometimes I get scared, sometimes it's a pure adrenaline shot, and sometimes antics in the air simply soothe me to sleep with no worry at all. It's still mysterious to me why I'm not always troubled, but when I am, I, without fail, think of my "happiness check".

Sounds pretty dumb, I know. These thoughts hadn't had a name at all before my most recent flight (which was really calm, by the way), but now that I've come up with a "Happiness check", it stuck. I always think how I have everything going for me in my life, how lucky I am to be doing exactly what I want and see people I love, all over the world. I know that if I were to die in a plane crash, however slim the chances might be, I would certainly die very very scared, but at least with all these happy memories in my head and things that I did rather than didn't do.

The happiness check doesn't calm me, by the way, it usually results in me thinking "oh god I don't want to die, my life is so great", which is exactly what I need in order to remember that planes don't just drop down from the sky, and a touch of turbulence never hurt anyone (except for you stubborn newbies who do not fasten your seat belts while seated).

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