Our occasional airplane travel, unfailingly, produces in us a remarkable manifestation. The mere act of entry into the cavernous flying container, seems to reliably, presage in us, an altered sense of reality. On settling in and fastening (belting) ourselves to our assigned seat, we at once realize, that we are a hapless number in a veritable ark of fellow adventurers; and that we are now completely dependent upon persons and events over, whom and which, we have absolutely no participation or control. Yet, this identical experience having always proved successful in the past, we confidently, submit our lives and packages to the capably skillful pilots and the eternally smiling crew. Thereafter, one has nothing to do but think; and may be one of the factors underlying the phenomenon on which we base our present theme.
An intensively separate, introspective focus seems to evolve, despite the presence of other people in one’s traveling party and the fellow passengers of the cavernous winged leviathan. We entertain the perception that we are now resuming our personal, private conversation, at the point where it was left off, at the prior flight experience. We pick up the familiar enhanced focus employed on recent such adventures, and seem to continue the audit, or taking stock, of the current progress of our lives, bringing such internal observations up to date, hopefully, with a more experienced perspective.
This re-visited sense of separateness and such enhanced focus, is readily distinguishable from the sense of being alone. We are among several others, who similarly, may be in concentrated and undisturbed contact with their inner selves. Our judgments and observations in this state, are distinguishably not based upon empirical events as they may occur in contemporary time, but rather reside in an aeronautical style meditation, concerning our recollected past experiences and past responses to stimuli.
We have pondered on the etiology of this (aeronautical) state of deliberation and cognition and attribute it to one, or more of the following: (1) as stated above, the complete surrender of independent action, as an airline passenger or, (2) the hypnotic and monotonous drone of the engines, or, (3) the realization that, incredibly, we are comfortably sipping our beverage at 40,000 feet from the surface of the earth or, (4) the magical experience of motionless sitting, and later emerging, “twilight zone fashion,” from the vessel, at a distant point on the globe, or (5) even the (repressed) realization that any serious mishap, mechanical or meteorological, can have mortal consequence.
Upon the plane’s arrival and landing, we resume our customary patterns of thought, but some instinctive message seems to insinuate itself: “See you next time.”