For the first time in as long as I remember, I boarded the plane with something to lose. This time, my fear of planes was magnified by real consequences. This time, I wasn’t undecided about whether it would be bad if my fear came true.
I did have something to lose. It was that someone would cry if I died, not because death is sad but because they would miss me. She would miss what I used to say and what I used to do. That was the treasure that I didn’t want to lose.
I looked at children and the elderly, and I felt relieved. I don’t know why it’s always easier for me to expect God’s mercy on others, but not on myself. Ascending to the plane alone would be like descending into a tomb. And I feel safer if the plane is full with more reasons for God to guard the plane.
My growth is always more noticeable when I fly. Every time I rise above the clouds I see my life as a distant neutral observer who’s aggregating evaluations of my life. I feel empty, and sad just by noticing the empty feeling.
I am fully convinced that traveling the world is not one of my goals in life. I want my life to be one, not the aggregation of many smaller lives. I want to stay home, especially now that home is pleasant.
I have something to lose, and it’s my life at home.
To you, my treasure.
To you, although you don’t read this: I love you.
I don’t have anything more to say. I’ve written many drafts but I quickly noticed how they add nothing to what I’ve written before.
It’s another piece of evidence that I have been thinking the same way for the last few years.
The first major independent decision I made in my life I regretted. The most crucial of the things I’ve lost was my confidence.
I remember wanting to be at school just because I hated home, and wanting to be at home because I hated school. At the age of 18, after many years of thinking, I traveled to study abroad. That didn’t solve anything. In fact, it made my problems feel inescapable; I couldn’t “leave” my problems and travel away.
There were many ultimatums I have given myself. I wrote: “I will do my best effort, but if I don’t achieve X in Y days then I’ll have to make big changes.” Most ultimatums weren’t met, and I learned to save myself the paperwork.
There’s one thing I was always ashamed to admit. I tried not to say it or write, because as long as its only in my mind it could be untrue. I always wonder how different my life would have been if I was born in another random place. I can’t help but think my life would have been better.
The last few months I have been trying to slowly rebuild my confidence. The first step I took was to not think about the past. In that spirit, I believe I must stop writing in this blog. Because as soon as open the page, I get a heavy feeling as I remember the past all at once. I hoped I could write something very good as a final post, but I couldn’t. I really had nothing more to say.
There maybe some unpublished drafts that I will polish and publish, but I hope to focus more on the future.
It is convenient to have a fear of flying when you can’t travel anyway.
All that I will tell myself (and remember in the future) is that I’m not leaving. There will be no major reason; I couldn’t and I (possibly) wouldn’t want to if I could.
It feels familiar. That’s how I spent most of my young life: watching movies, and reading about other places. Yet when I realized I couldn’t travel abroad as a teenager, I began to take note of what would repulse me about what happens “over there”.
I am little uneasy that I am growing into my older self. Growth isn’t supposed to be in circles. You’re supposed to learn and learn until you know almost everything you need to know. So by the time you’re old, everything would seem repetitive and boring because you know everything.
A few days ago, I woke up feeling terrible. I knew I had bad dreams, but I didn’t remember anything. It was helpless misery, and for the whole day I was feeling terrible for nothing that I have committed. It was one of the worst feelings.
I promised myself that I will stop my old habit of believing in the least optimistic view on things. I planned to do it, at least just to show that I’m growing in the traditional sense; growth by not being your past self.
But I’m starting to form an explanation that ties everything together.
There will be many “maybe”s in the next sentences. I don’t want to break my promise, so I’ll just express doubts that I don’t fully believe.
I couldn’t study abroad, that’s the fact.
Maybe my fear of flight is a tool I used to not feel helpless misery. Maybe in those terrible unknown dreams I was just traveling the world. Maybe I haven’t grown in all those years. Maybe I don’t know how to handle this failure better than my 15 year old self.
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.