I must have been a bird in a past life. Seriously, what else could explain that sensation I feel the moment a plane I’m riding accelerates, releasing itself into the open sky with a sudden rush, pushing my head gently into the back of my otherwise uncomfortable seat, such a sweet release.
And at times, in my life, I’ve been boarding a plane more or less multiple times a week, sometimes traveling well over 100,000 miles in a year.
If you follow the law of diminishing returns, (which can essentially be described as one candy bar can be good but after sixteen...not so much), you would assume that this amount of travel gets old. Not to mention the over priced liquor in plastic cups, and deciding just how rude to be (or not to be) when it comes to armrest etiquette. Despite the odds, I still love it; the journey is just as enjoyable as the destination. Well…maybe not quite as pleasurable as the destination itself, but you get the idea.
And this whole it’s about the journey not the destination' is a lesson we shouldn’t soon forget. No, the airport isn’t Istanbul’s Grand Bazar, and no, the airplane isn’t your bustling hostel, however the principles remain the same. Connections with people, patience, and relishing, thoroughly enjoying the present moment anticipating what lays ahead…all good things—I hope!
Who’s to say the most incredible, life-changing person you meet on your adventure isn’t sitting on the bar stool next to you in the airport, indulging in an over priced sandwich; or fighting for that arm rest next to yours on the plane. You’ll never know if you don’t take off those headphones!
Which leads us, full circle, back to our intention for this post - COMMUNICATION!
I get it…once you open the door, unleashing your voice into, for the most part, the silent surroundings, you may never hear silence again, or at least for a while! Catching a few minutes of sleep or plugging into a movie, with no distractions and not a pang of guilt, may be less likely now that you engaged in conversation. Why?
However tempting, this less engaged, and more disconnected cultural issue goes beyond the airplane chatter. We’re not just losing the art to bullshit—in the sense of light conversation—, but we are also losing the aptitude to enter in polite encounters. Saying, “Hi, how are ya…you look well; Oh, where you going; Ok great, have a good one; we should grab a beer sometime (the last one may be not your first go-to-line, but you get the point), is increasingly thought of as an obligation rather than part of an overarching fun life experience.
Something I’ve noticed about many travelers (myself included) is that when we are exploring the streets of some new county, our hearts and minds are far more open to meeting new people and sparking random conversations. In contrast, at home we recluse to the safety of ear buds and pretending we're looking at a map on our phone; and this behaviour continues in the airport and on the airplane.
Let’s try to be mindful of opening ourselves up to conversations with strangers, both through our travels and even on the less exciting—may be even dreadful—journey back home. Who knows who we can meet and where our conversations will go?
So here’s to a splendid lift off. Here’s to a change of pace and new horizons. And here's to remembering to enjoy every step of the way and even possibly sharing that arm rest!