The following was written on January 24, 2005 at 28,000 feet somewhere above the Canadian Rockies. I had been sent to Vancouver for meetings. I just found this old piece, which was originally written in a notebook, and it made me laugh. It first appeared on an old version of Writelife and it goes like this …
I’m seldom successful.
As far as I’ve been able to determine, the only time I enjoy flying is when I’m drunk. Then, it’s not so much an enjoyable experience as it is a desensitized one. It occurs to me it is often the absence of a quality that recommends something.
I think an absence of turbulence would recommend flying. Not so on my flight.
You may laugh. But try writing longhand when the damn plane is bouncing like an old Pontiac Laurentian over back country roads. (By the way … if you’re in a 737, avoid seat 21A – window seat, right at the back. It’s like riding in that Laurentian’s trunk.)
You know, when you remove the element of speed from the flying equation you find there is little left on the upside. If you were making a list of flying’s best qualities, it would begin:
- Transports people between places quickly.
Then the list would end.
There is nothing else good about flying. And given the hold ups these days with security clearances, false alarms, weather delays and so on, flight’s key benefit – speed – is kind of a crapshoot. Your flight may be fast; maybe not.
Even when flying is fast, it feels real slow because it begins and ends with airports, which are Bermuda Triangles of lost time. Airports are the answer to the age-old question, “Where does the time go?”
So why do we do it? Or more to the point, why do we do so much of it? Why the rush? It is as if we were obsessed with terminal tedium (where we seem to spend ages standing around waiting).
It’s because we think flying is fast and we are determined to get to wherever we want to go as fast as we possibly can. But it’s like trying to remove the discomfort of a dull headache by knocking yourself unconscious with a hammer.
(Posted on January 29, 2005 at 09:56 AM)