I have a developed a technique for overcoming my fear of airplanes. I look at the laughing children. I look the elderly. I look at the lovers and the loved ones. I conclude that no good force would allow this plane to fall, not even as a punishment for my inherent evilness.
I conclude that even if the plane did fall, I would grieve the people who had more to lose than myself.
Maybe what I fear isn’t the physical part of flying, but the memories I have in airplanes. It seems every crucial moment in my life involved leaving someone or something.
I remember the tears that forced themselves out of the face I held calm, as I left home back to college. I pretended to be sick and asked my older brother to stop at a clinic on our way to the airport. I wished they would say I had cancer, so that I could quit school and stay home without feeling like a failure.
I remember the interview with the big company. I remember saying to myself as they showed us around their building: “If everything I’ve been through was the price to get here, then I’ll gladly accept it.” The captain flew over the city and away, and my final share of that place was seeing it from afar. Nothing professional about a man with a crumbled suit and crushed pride.
But, for what it’s worth, I’ve never cried over the same cause twice. Leaving familiar places get less upsetting after a while. This is what the optimistic would call grit and perseverance. I think that’s exactly what I fear; not death, but the loss of life. With every flight I take, part of me is lost. The unfortunate way to become strong is to leave the weaker parts behind forever.
The potential was always missed in places that are too familiar. All the cups of coffee that I drink to avoid wasting my mornings half-asleep. All the pills that I take to avoid wasting my nights half-awake. All the calculations of whether I really seized my energy, if it comes.
I chose travel, so that even if I worry about my present and my future, I would be comfortably far from my past.
But it’s the same.
I miss my past, until the new place becomes familiar. Then I realize it’s the same.
I write again in my crowded notebook. In a new language, but along the same lines. I have not seized the potential, if there’s any, in two different countries.
I should have never travelled, and the potential should have always remained not fully explored. So that it gives reason to avoid wasting everyday half-awake and half-asleep.
So that one could always say: “There is potential for things to be generally better in the future as a result of some of my actions.”
I have an irrational fear, and it’s not my fear of flights.
It’s the fear that only when I overcome my fear of flights that the plane would crash. At my last seconds, the confidence that I most recently acquired would begin to quickly dissipate, and I would regain my fear of flights just the second before impact.
I tried to tell myself that even if my plane crashed, wouldn’t that be a relief of at least a few things?
But as soon as the plane shakes I firmly confirm that I don’t wish to be relieved today. Maybe the next flight, or some time in the future. But if it isn’t urgent, then maybe it’s best to be relieved much much later by the natural cause of old age.
When I was a kid, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be nothing. I tried to “feel” what it would be like if I have never existed. I imagined the closest thing to it is to be a cloud, or above clouds. What happens on Earth does not affect you, nothing affects you. You would be floating, but nothing ever happens, and you never die because you are nothing.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but every time I ride a plane and see clouds without being affected by the life that happens behind it, I feel very afraid.
I will just admit to myself that, for the time being, it is better to be something than to be nothing, and it’s better to be a living thing than a dead thing.
But after the plane lands, I might rethink.
I stayed one day more than I originally planned, but at the end of the day, it felt short. I think if I stayed there for as long as I live it would still feel short.
What has an end is short.
I have read that the last step of growth is accepting your mistakes, and I might have grown. If I didn’t do every mistake that I have done, I wouldn’t be me. Even if I was reincarnated many times, I will still commit every one of them again. This self, this entity, it could only exist here today as a result of exactly the life that I have lived.
Maybe I think I have grown because I visit home every few months. To them, nothing in the house changes. But to me, I am able to see how they all keep growing, and I am also reminded of how I grew.
The walls. The dusty books that I have once read. My trophies and awards that stopped as a certain date as if I disappeared.
And, though I try, I cannot ignore noticing our growth in our faces and bodies.
Growth, or getting closer to ending the short journey, is the only reason I think I should come back here to stay. But I also remember every reason I had as a teenager to be independent. Many of those reasons are still valid today.
At the end of this short day, I think I have to apologize to just one person. My dear sister, of two years or younger. I’ve been away for so long that I recognize you better from your picture. I have no excuse but to say that I wish the future would be long, and that I hope you will live long and know that I love you.