Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I always thought it was my own term, but I discover via an Internet search that it's not mine at all, but one that's widely used: pre-flight nerves--a condition that hits me, usually, a couple of weeks before a long flight.  I don't recognize it for what it is, at first.  It's just a general malaise that manifests as an irritability, a vague depression, a kind of rootlessness, a persistent, unidentified anxiety.  Ellie experiences the same thing, and it tends to blossom into pointless spats in the few days before we leave.  This time, we're off to England this Friday for two weeks, and it hit us with a vengeance last night.

It's reasonable, isn't it, these days, to be anticipating a long trip with something less than enthusiasm? When you read about planes disappearing into the void, crashing for unknown causes into distant oceans, flown into mountainsides by demoted co-pilots...  Reason affirms that such events are not survivable; it takes less into account the statistics that assure us of their extreme improbability.  And we know about the less mortal miseries of air travel: the long lines at the airport, the crush of fellow-travelers, the indignity of body scanning and the sheer physical discomforts of getting through security, the long wait at the gate.  Then there's the food, or lack of it, the agony of ten hours in cramped quarters, the lines of less-than-happy passengers at the doors to too few toilets, awaiting the pleasure of taking care of the necessities in the space of a small broom closet.  We know it all too well, and it's not something we look forward to--especially those of us to remember different days, when air travel was a luxury and passengers were pampered by solicitous attendants...

So we must learn to be more Buddhist, both in the expectation and the reality.  Use the breath to calm the nerves and bring the attention back to the present moment; to divert thoughts from the discomfort and channel them into such things as relaxation, generosity, and gratitude.  Ah, yes!  So sane, so right, so reasonable... and yet so hard to do!

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