The Incredible Lightness of Being on a Plane
The moment I take a seat inside the car that will take me to the airport, my mind becomes clearer. I feel a weight lifting off my shoulders. I sense a calm in the pit of my belly. I lean back into the seat behind me, expand my chest and breath in deeply. I’m going on a trip.
My notifications buzz, but there’s nothing I can do to help anyone now. I’m not available. I’m traveling, you see. I’ll be back next week. Until then, you’ll have to manage without me, thanks.
Without work to distract me — or worse, without the constant sense that I should be working, making money — I am released from the tense atmosphere of my typical daily grind. For the next however odd hours I will be available only to myself.
And so my mind relaxes. My body goes slack. My creative juices start to percolate.
Travel doesn’t stress me out like it does for some people. Life stresses me out.
Travel doesn’t stress me out like it does for some people. Life stresses me out. All those things I’m supposed to be doing... Tasks, responsibilities, obligations. I can’t ever seem to get them out of my mind. All the things I have to do — should be doing…
But now… There’s nothing to do now but sit here quietly — first in the car and then on the plane.
I don’t mind that there’s traffic on the way to the airport. When we reach the entrance that leads into LAX, the traffic always gets worse. Packed tightly between the other cars around us, our car inches ahead. No worries! I’ve left early enough that we can sit in this traffic for another hour if we have to.
That usually doesn’t happen though. Only a few minutes longer, and I’ll have arrived in the front of the terminal.
I exit the car, grab my bag, then make my way through security.
And then… I wait.
The glory of just waiting at the airport. My mind opens up and already solutions to issues that have plagued my writing for weeks burst in my mind. These are writing problems that have pained me for months. Not anymore. Just the right words rise up from inside of me and empty into my brain. From my brain, these words flow to my fingertips as perfect sentences. I type these sentences into either my computer or my smart phone. And when I’m done doing that, I switch over to undertake the bizarre task called reading.
I don’t care that a coffee in the airport costs five or six dollars. It’s worth it just to be able to sit back and enjoy the simply pleasure of having absolutely nothing to do.
To read fiction — to actually relax and read a book? When was the last time I did that? When was the last time I read for pleasure?
Now I have the time. I open the app on my phone that I download all my books onto. Without the anxiety of my usual stress-filled work day, I delight in simply reading.
Ah, to feel like I’m not just “wasting time.” I allow myself to catch up on some of the literature that I should be reading daily but most often don’t.
And to think — we haven’t even boarded yet.
I don’t care that a coffee in the airport costs five or six dollars. That damn coffee is worth every penny. It’s worth it just to be able to sit back and enjoy the simple pleasure of having absolutely nothing to do.
The way the sentences flow, so freely… It’s never like this in real life.
By the time we’re finally called to board the aircraft, I’ve become used to this exquisite freedom. Even while we’re standing in line, waiting to board, I’m deep inside my head. I go back to punching in sentences into my phone. First the outline for a new article. Then some notes about another short story I want to write.
The way the sentences flow, so freely... It’s never like this in real life. Meaning, it’s never like this when I’m just at home. When I’m home, all the work notifications come, and then I actually have to attend to them.
By the time I find my seat in the plane cabin, I realize I’ve got a whole new blog post practically written. The sense that I’ve completed something is a tangible delight. The pleasure is intense. It’s not simply a physical pleasure, though it is that, too. Without my mind fighting against itself, struggling to push out creativity — instead the creativity just coming — my body is able to relax. That is, of course, an enjoyable physical sensation.
But yes, the real pleasure is emotional. Writing can be so difficult, so when I find a way to make it easier, almost effortless, that is an advantage to be enjoyed.
I forget about the fact that I’ve been given only a few inches of space to occupy for the next few hours inside this metal object hurtling through the air.
Once we’re in the air, I don’t fret about the long trip. No, it’s not comfortable being cramped in one of those tiny seats in economy class, rubbing elbows with whomever is seated next to me, but who the hell cares? Who cares when my mind is so free? I have so many things to do anyway. I forget about the fact that I’ve been given only a few inches of space to occupy for the next few hours inside this metal object hurtling through the air. I’ve got my computer open again. I’m editing. I’m rewriting. And then I put the computer away, and I go back to reading.
I’m no longer just reading for pleasure. I’m reading as a means to fill my mind with new ideas. I take notes on what I’ve read. I sketch out new scenes that come to me. I feel inspired by what I’ve seen another writer do.
And when I’m done doing that, I do something that I never allow myself to do at home. I close my eyes for a few minutes and actually rest.
To just doze for few minutes. An hour. Longer. I don’t care that I can’t lay back all the way. I feel refreshed.
As I make my way to the outside of the airport, where I wait for another ride to pick me up, I exalt in the change of weather, even if it’s uncomfortable. It’s too hot, or too cold — I don’t care. It’s different, and that’s what’s important.
My sense of being filled with new creativity doesn’t end once the plane touches down. Once that happens, I am immediately delighted by all the new things I see. As I make my way to the outside of the airport, where I wait for another ride to pick me up, I exalt in the change of weather, even if it’s uncomfortable. It’s too hot, or too cold — I don’t care. It’s different, and that’s what’s important.
The change shocks my system, and opens my mind to even newer spaces. I’m enabled to find more solutions to my writing issues — or to my issues in general. I gain a new outlook on life.
As I understand myself more, I’m able to forgive others. If travel can also give me that, then that makes it even more worth it.
It’s not completely true the travel doesn’t stress me out. In the days leading up to every trip I go on, I always fret about how I shouldn’t be going on this trip.
It’s not completely true the travel doesn’t stress me out. In the days leading up to every trip I go on, I always fret about how I shouldn’t be going on this trip. I really don’t have the time, do I? Can I allow myself this time off? The rent is due soon. I have bills to pay. I need to be working. I need to not be flying off somewhere.
The night before a trip is always the worst. The thoughts that I shouldn’t be traveling attack me. This is a mistake. I should have never agreed to this. I should cancel. Can I cancel? I can’t! Oh, no, I’m going to be miserable the whole time I’m away.
But then the car shows up the next morning to take me to the airport, and as soon as I’m inside it, all these bad thoughts disappear. I sink back into the seat and look out the window and my mind clears. And with this clear mind, I create.