A Flying State of Mind

The very idea of flight is an amazing thing. To start off your morning with a cup of joe and a bagel in New York City and to end it…well, very nearly anywhere in the world is a staggering concept. And yet, for many Americans, flying is considered a rather cumbersome and taxing ordeal. How bad will the traffic be? How long will the line at security be? Will the flight be delayed?

These are just a few of the concerns associated with public airlines. I am certain that anyone who has ever flown can name multiple harrowing experiences at the airport. Plane crashes, while far rarer than accidents due to any other type of transportation, are publicized across the nation, breeding an irrational fear of flight.

One issue with flying, one that has grown exponentially over recent years, is that of technology. When the flight attendant’s voice echoes over the speaker asking for all electronics to be turned off an audible groan emanates across the plane from a hundred (or more) dissonant voices. In these days of instant communication, where texts and notifications for twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram and more are sent directly to your phone, to be cut off from the flow for hours on end is quite jarring. There have been more than a few incidents of travelers refusing to turn off their phones when asked. Yet is it really such a bad thing?

For me, that time sitting in my seat on a plane is a welcome respite. Instead of worrying or getting frustrated about circumstances beyond my control I accept the fact that for those three, four, five or however many hours I am figuratively by myself. No one expects anything of you while you are on a plane, there are no phone calls that you need to make, no emails you need to send out. Everyone knows that for that allotted amount of time you are, for all intents and purposes, unreachable. It is like being in the eye of the storm. The hectic whirlwind of information is there when you take off and when you land, so why not enjoy that time in-between?

Activities for Your Flight

Flying gives you the chance to read that book that everyone says is great, but you haven’t found the time for or to watch that movie you downloaded months ago. Oftentimes airports will have mini DVD players you can rent, or you can pick up a few magazines or a newspaper to keep up on current styles and events. Even doing a puzzle such as Sudoku or crossword allows you to concentrate on something that has no deadline, no pressure, just the pure simple enjoyment that comes from finishing it. You can listen to music and let your mind drift; reflect on the last few months or sort out plans for the future. Or you can take a nap and catch up on some sleep. Keep your mind sharp by trying out a few simple mental exercises such as writing using your off hand or memorizing paragraphs.

If nothing else, talk to the person next to you. Almost everyone we talk to, no matter the situation, there is always an expectation, some point to the conversation. We tend to disguise it by circling around it, talking about the weather or the game until we feel we have satisfied the requirements of social niceties and get to the point. Talking to a stranger on an airplane is one of the few exceptions to this rule. There is nothing you need from them; nothing they need from you, once the plane lands you will never see each other again. Something about that lack of expectation just makes the conversation flow easier. Perhaps you will learn a new perspective on life or learn about some field of study you know nothing about. Maybe you will get the chance to voice doubts about something that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with friends or family.

At the end of the day you’re going to be on that plane regardless of how you decide to spend your time. So you may as well walk off with a smile. And, who knows, maybe you’ll pause for a moment before you turn your cell phone back on.

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