Thursday, July 10, 2008

Panic and Gratitude

Longtime readers may remember that I'm not fond of airplane rides. Each time I get off a plane, I fervently hope that I'll never have to get back on one, so this was a tough year because we planned two plane-based trips within 5 months of one another. Urgh!

We just returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon to visit family and (of course) had a great time - more on that tomorrow. For today's post, I want to describe my airplane-mindset, and see if it makes sense to anyone but me. Here goes:

My mind divides into more or less 3 parts, each competing with the others to come out on top. For the duration of the flights, time in the airport, and even the days leading up to flying, it's like a conversation that constantly takes place in my head.

First, panic. "The wing! It's dipping... towards the ground... is that okay? Should it be doing that? Did the pilot get enough sleep last night, is he or she fresh?... Oh no, turbulence, how can the flight attendants be so calm with all this bumping?..."

Then comes postitive thinking: "hey, relax, take a few deep breaths, you need to direct all your energy into thinking positive... yes, the pilot got enough sleep... that dip was very controlled, the people in the cockpit did that on purpose, because we're facing north and must instead face east... so many millions of people are in the air right now, odds are extremely small that you'd be on the plane which crashes..."

And, finally, gratitude. Usually, this starts weeks before the planned flight, in which I begin to notice every little wonderful thing about everything - my husband and kids, the flowers, the feel of water on my skin, the pleasure I get out of walking, singing, chopping vegetables. The day before the flight(s), when I start to wonder, 'is this my last day on earth?,' gratitude kicks into high gear.

And it sounds like this: "If this is my last day on earth, I want to thank the powers that be for giving me this time, for sharing with me my husband and family, and friends... if this is my last moment on earth, let me think about Owen's beautiful eyelashes, and cute little lisp, and let me thank you (whoever you are) for Luke's giggle and for the fact that he's grown so well and happy this year... and thank you too for Ben, the whole of him... I'm grateful to have had so many wonderful people in my life... thank you for this moment."

I know, it's nuts to have this 3-way mind break when preparing for a ride in a plane. But I kind of like it, especially the gratitude part - it brings me right up to living in the moment. Because, someday really will be my last day on earth. And when that day comes, I know there will be some panic.

But there will also be deep, profound gratitude.

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