Monday, October 20, 2008

List: Nine things I know about flying

  1. Every time I fly I bring stuff to read that I end up ignoring. Instead I build castles in the air, marvel at the endless sky, trace the land and ocean below. The world is so very big and I am so very small.

  2. I love the way the world seen from above looks so tiny; the buildings, mountains and landscape shrink. It's only when you finally touch down that proper scale is again achieved. When we're flying it's hard to remember that we are the tiny specks when seen from below. Up in the sky we could be as big as clouds.

  3. All I remember about the first time I ever flew was how utterly exquisite the clouds were. I was going to visit family in Michigan and was glued to the window, staring outside the whole time. My mother had prepped me, talked to me, told me not to be scared. How silly! I never thought to be frightened, only enchanted by the world outside.

  4. I was on a flight recently seated next to a woman who was so scared. She had taken some kind of anti-anxiety medicine before boarding the plane and was still terrified. We chatted for the whole flight; when it was bumpy I held her hand. She asked me if I found flying scary and I told her that no, I didn't particularly, that I couldn't control it so it was a good exercise in letting go. She looked wistful and said she has control issues.

  5. The old joke that ends with and boy are my arms tired always makes me wistful. If only I could fly as I do in my dreams. Airplanes are useful contraptions but make me feel like a virus inside a cell, just waiting to burst forth.
  6. In my dreams I leap endlessly from rooftop to treetop to hill, as though I have seven league boots from a fairy tale. In my dreams I feel the wind on my face, my hair whips behind me, I am limitless. In my dreams I am free.
  7. I listen to aquaintances wax rhapsodic about free fall, leaping from airplanes and the joy of just plummeting to earth, pulling the ripcord for the parachute only at the last minute. I listen to these stories and think that this isn't flight, it's falling.
  8. I've heard flight described as controlled falling. Daedalus knew this, I think. Icarus certainly did. I imagine him, soaring up as high as he could to feel the sun on his face, then down low to smell the sweet, salty air. Of course he heard his father, urging him to be cautious, that too much glory was deadly. But he wanted to fly not merely for escape but for the utter joy and freedom, for the wind in his face, for the living moment. We all die, he thought. In this moment, let me live, with or without wings.

  9. Icarus was right.
(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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