I’m on my way to Raleigh for Ignited by Truth, so this edition of 7 Quick Takes will be written 30,000 feet over the southeast United States. As if #TWEETSONAPLANE!!! wasn’t enough to make you wish the internet didn’t exist, I hereby bring you #7QUICKTAKESONAPLANE!!!
I’m not going to turn this into a litany of complaints about flying. I would not use my blog to wonder aloud what kind of moral state one must be in to use a seat to hold one’s gossip magazines and scarf when there are people all around looking for places to sit. A lady of grace such as myself is far above issuing public service announcements like: “When you answer your cell phone in a crowded gate seating area, IT DOES NOT MAGICALLY TRANSPORT YOU INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION WHERE THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU CANNOT HEAR YOU SHOUTING.” I wouldn’t even consider speculating that today must be Bad People Fly Free day when I am hunched under the overhead compartment, trying to get into the aisle, and a man pushes past me so that I can’t step out. Never would I indulge in such meditations, especially not during Lent.
I would, however, like to document a wish:
I would happily make a solemn promise never to complain about air travel again — not even a single tweet, even if we were flying through a hurricane and the plane had free cocktails and wifi — if I could be granted one wish:
I want to take a three-hour flight, in coach, with the CEO of a major airline sitting next to me. I imagine this moment vividly:
After he stuffs himself into his economy seat, I allow him a moment to regain his composure as he subdues his fight-or-flight instinct that screams that his surroundings are so confined that he will surely suffocate to death. As he seeks a modicum of comfort by employing maneuvers usually only seen by professional contortionists, I say:
“Been a few years since you’ve flow coach, huh? Allow me to be your guide to the experience.”
I tut-tut him as he leans on the arm rest, noting that only half of the three-inch-wide space is his. When the woman in front of him puts all her weight into reclining her seat as far as it will go, so that it turns him into a human sandwich with his own seat back, I shrug with a knowing smile. When he jumps up to make an urgent restroom trip and sees the beverage cart inching its way down the aisles, blocking his path to the restroom for a good 15 minutes, I point to the stewardess who is glaring at him like he’s a criminal for even considering using the First Class bathroom.
And when the plane hits turbulence, and feelings of despair sweep over him as he now understands what it would be like to be stuffed into a wall locker that’s strapped to a rodeo bull, I turn to him and say gently, “Could I chat with you about ways your airline could reduce costs without cutting seat space?”
This is why God doesn’t pop up like a genie and give us powerful choices. Because at this particular moment, if I had a choice between world peace and the plane trip with a CEO…I would not make the right decision.
I am now running out of time to finish this post. You know why? Because I just spent 30 minutes agonizing over my bathroom strategy.
You see, as a socially awkward claustrophobic, there are no plane seats that are good for me. If I get an aisle seat I feel like I’m trapped within the bowels of the metal death ship, but if I get a window seat I spend the first third of the flight worrying that I’ll have to go to the bathroom, the next third realizing that I do have to go to the bathroom and rehearsing telling my seatmates I need to get up, and the last third fretting that I ruined their flight and perhaps their entire lives by making them stand up for my bathroom trip. (I didn’t list middle seats as an option, since I would demand to fly with the pets in the baggage hull before I took a middle seat on a plane.)
So I have spent a good portion of the flight lost in internal dialogue that goes something like this:
Okay, I’m going to ask now. Wait. No. There’s turbulence. So the stewardess might make me go back to my seat, in which case the two people next to me would have to stand up again, then stand up yet another time when I finally get to go.
Things have smoothed out. Maybe now. But gosh. They look so comfortable. The guy on the aisle just closed his eyes as if entering a state of deep relaxation. What if he’s about to reach a mountaintop moment of internalizing transcendent truths, and then he forever looks back on his life and says wistfully, “I once came within a breath of achieving oneness with the Divine…and then the bad woman had to get up to go to the bathroom.”
Joe once asked why I don’t like aisle seats if I’m claustrophobic. “It seems like it would make you feel more free not to have anyone next to you,” he said. He also pointed out that aisle seats make it easier to get to the exits in case of emergency.
After chuckling at the naivete of the notion, I explained that being in the very center of the plane only makes me feel more trapped. “I need to be able to stare out the window, because it’s like I’m out in the clouds instead of being trapped in the plane. It makes me feel free.”
He paused for a moment. “But…you’re not out in the clouds. You’re still in the plane.”
“But being able to see the sky makes me think about it and not the terrible plane, and that’s what matters.”
After another long pause in which I’m pretty sure he was internalizing the reality that he married a brain in a jar, he said, “You really aren’t very connected to the physical world, are you?”
(The lesson here is: flying brings out ALL my crazy.)
We Catholic believe that we can unite our suffering to Christ’s sufferings — like, rather than just whining about it — to turn it into a love-generating act. (I am probably doing a bad job of explaining this since I am now on hour five of travel, but I described it in my post about how I always listen to Tupac in labor.)
Anyway, I really believe that Surprised by Motherhood will be a tremendous encouragement to women, so I am doing the suffering-into-love thing (when I’m not, umm, complaining on Twitter), which I’ve noticed can be a powerful form of prayer. Given how very much I dislike being trapped in containers that bounce in the sky, you can go ahead and bank on Lisa-Jo’s book make Harry Potter look like a failure.
Speaking of books, THANK YOU for the incredibly warm response to my announcement about the free ebook pre-order gift. I was blown away by your generosity and your support.
I’m dying to get The Family-First Creative out there so that we can start talking about it. I can’t wait for Monday!