Pretty much every time I board a plane, I’m afraid that this time is going to finally be the time it’s actually going to crash.
I realize that this is an incredibly morbid and a kind of twisted way of looking at flying, but I really can’t help it. Anytime there’s even the slightest bit of turbulence, I rediscover religion and pray to variety of deities to cover all my bases. When the plane levels out, I send them a “good one guys” and “until next air pocket 30,000 feet above” glance into space. And then, I chill. Until we land, in which case, the cycle repeats.
And perhaps this is slightly neurotic.
However, I would like to argue that in terms of irrational fears, I think it’s at least semi-realistic. I have a guy friend who thinks that the giant windmills in rural Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa etc. are going to uproot themselves during his road trips, fly through the air and essentially decapitate him in his own car. I find this a lot more neurotic and irrational. I have also suggested several times that he see therapy for this fear, as this seems much more far-fetched than dying in a fiery airplane crash. But whatever. I’m clearly in no place to judge as I’m currently on an extremely bumpy plane ride and have grabbed the armrest next to me with a vulcan-like death grip no less than 5 different times.
On the other hand, airplanes are also incredibly therapeutic for me. I can’t look at the Internet, I can’t look at my phone, I don’t really talk to anyone- it’s pretty much just me, my thoughts, and my gigantic irrational fear that this will be the last plane ride ever.
So I think its fair to say its kind of like every time I fly, I see my life flash before my eyes. Except it’s typically over a two plus hour period, and it’s usually more focused on a problem I’m currently dealing with as opposed to my life from the time I was a fetus.
So as I sit here and listen to music and the flight attendants tell all passengers to turn off all portable electronics and I blatantly ignore this and the person next to me reminds me that it’s unsafe to have my iPad on and therefore I should turn it off and so I remind them that it’s also unsafe to talk to strangers and therefore they should mind their own business– I have some thoughts I thought I’d share because otherwise I’ll have to sit here and think about my irrational fear of plane crashes and the odds of me surviving on an island such as in Lost with the rude person next to me who is also clearly reading over my shoulder.
I feel like a lot of time, we want to put things in black and white. Either something is blatantly wrong or something is blatantly right. Obviously, it’s never that simple. There’s grey in every decision we make. And thank god, because who wants life to be that straightforward and boring right?
….Um, how about me?
Why must everything be so freaking complicated? Why can’t I just make a decision and KNOW full well it’s the right decision, that there is no doubt, no uncertainties, no what ifs, no maybes, just full-out black and white this is the correct answer?
Why can’t major life decisions be like drinking orange juice?
Orange juice is the same in every scenario of consumption. No matter the brand, in a carton, or a glass- you can count on the fact that if it’s orange and liquified and is advertised as juice, it’s going to taste the same. I just want some choices I make with that absolute certainty. That if I drink the juice, it’s going to taste, look and feel like juice.
And yet, even though we know life isn’t the frozen fruit concentrate aisle, we pretend it is. And because of this, I think it’s sort of natural to categorize everything. Places, experiences and of course, most commonly, people.
For instance, who hasn’t gone through a breakup where friends/family/acquaintances have the automatic propensity to refer to your ex as an “insert explicit here”.
We hate him.
He’s dead to us.
She’s a complete psycho.
He’s a narcissistic prick.
She’s clearly a straight up high maintenance crazy bipolar nappy headed ho. (I don’t know how accurate that last statement is but I feel like at some point in pop culture history it’s been said, and therefore should be recognized accordingly).
And thanks and everything friends, but let’s be real here. By doing this, we are essentially making the people of our past (whatever our relationship with them was) into juice. We categorize them. They are either flawed beyond recognition, or put into little glass encased pedestals of perfection. They are either/or. Black and white. Expired. Fresh. Bottled, Boxed, sealed… concentrated orange juice.
I hate when people do this. I do it too. But I really hate hearing it regardless. The people of our past are who they are all day long. They treated us badly. They weren’t who we thought they were. Whatever. But something, somewhere, at some point, was right. There was a reason that it worked. No matter how something ended. And because of this, there’s no way we can put someone entirely into one category either way. Like, maybe she was crazy, but she was also fun. And that crazy fun personality is the reason you fell in love with her in the first place. Or maybe he did cheat on you. But he’s the first guy who ever made you really smile. And that smile for the rest of your life, is only ever going to belong to him.
I don’t know! My point is, writing anyone or anything off as an either all or nothing, seems jaded and immature. Were human beings. We are not juice. We make mistakes and we say the wrong thing and we fall short of others expectations. But were also good beyond measure. We sacrifice. We give. We love. And because we’re always both of these- both simultaneously good and bad, wrong and right- it is my belief that everyone and everything are both nothing and everything.
Were all just…grey.
Knowing this doesn’t change the past. It doesn’t change who people really are. And doesn’t change the chain of events that lead you to where you are now. And it certainly doesn’t make decisions to move forward without certain people in your life any less difficult. I would argue actually, it makes it harder. Because you recognize and realize both sides exist in every person.
But that’s also not the point. The point is, there’s never going to be a ‘right’ answer for the choices we are forced to make. There are consequences and benefits to every decision we choose to pursue. Every person from our past impacts our present in both a positive and negative way. No person is completely an island of good. Or a sea of evil. And we can put everything and everyone in neat little boxes and package them up as mistakes we want to just leave in the past or as regrets we wish we could try again or we can be honest with ourselves, and accept…. maybe they were a little bit of both.
So that’s where I’m at on this little pensive plane ride. Wondering if certain decisions I’ve made recently are the right ones, knowing that there is no real ‘right’ answer and finally realizing that I have to accept this very vague ambiguous but painfully true life lesson. That people aren’t always who you thought they were. But at the same time, they’re exactly who you thought they were. That were always going to have both a dark and light side to us and it’s a daily choice to decide which one you’re going to see in people.
And to the people of my past, who others have written off as black and white, good and bad, right and wrong- Know this.
That wherever you are in this world
whatever you’re doing
whatever you become
forever and today–
I still will always only see you…
as just several shades of grey.