I am a fortunate person. I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world. However, no matter where I go, there are certain things I experience each and every time I fly.
1. Humans can get used to almost anything:
Flying is a miraculous thing. First, there is the liberating sense of flight — a feeling that till very recent generations was a privilege available only to birds. We should be grateful every time we fly. To see a thousand plus tonne machine take off into the sky and cover incredible distances is a remarkable feat of science. It should inspire the sense of wonder that a devotee has for a miracle of God.
And yet, how quickly have we gotten used to flight. Today, we can ignore the fact that we are afloat on a bed of clouds. Instead, we can indulge in more earthly pursuits — like griping over pretzels and peanuts.
There are fewer things that can be as readily dulled as the human sense of wonder.
2. It pays to be ambitious
Human flight is different from bird flight. All birds fly the great open skies. Humans are made to feel different. There is the business class. And there is the economy class. These are vastly different classes. It would be illegal for airline carriers to exactly mirror the differences between the haves and the have nots that we see on earth. Lawmakers would raise an eyebrow if economy class had open sewage running through its aisles. (Thankfully.)
As on earth, the have nots are made to feel conscious of all that they don’t have. Economy class passengers are made to walk through the business class on the way to their seats. The walk of shame. Every time I make this walk, I am conscious I haven’t done all I could with my life. I am filled with a quiet resolve to do better.
3. But it pays to question your ambition
There are artists and sportspeople. These are people who can afford business class seats because they have brought other people joy. These deserve the extra legroom and noise cancelling headphones. Enjoy your wine.
But most people who fly business class are senior executives are businesses. They have secured the privilege of sitting in the front of the airplane by saying things like “leverage,” “synergies” and “ecosystem.” Instead of saying, “People want to buy,” they have learned to say “Demand is elastic.”
Are you prepared to say such terribly soul crushing things for extra leg room? You should ask yourself this question. You would learn a lot about yourself.
4. You can’t trust humans to do the right thing.
You can’t trust humans to do the right thing when they are with other people.
An airplane illustrates this truth perfectly.
We all know there’s so little room in the economy class. And yet we have people who will push their seats back as soon as the flight takes off. This serves to further cramp the already cramped passenger behind them. Of course, you have the option of leaning back too. As would the passenger behind you. And so on and on. Till you got to the last seat — whose passenger cannot lean back because her/his seat is set against a wall.
As a society, we have forgotten to think about the well being of the equivalent of the people in the last row.
We are all circling death in our little orbits. Like doomed planets, we must one day become one with our fiery suns. Some of us make this final flight knowingly. There are others who crash into the sun even before they know it.
I hope for one thing before my time comes. I hope to be able to be able to make a business or first class flight on Air Singapore. I’ll spend the money. But I’ll know where that money went. I won’t make the walk of shame. Instead, I’ll plop down on my seat. I’ll luxuriate in the best in food, wine and entertainment — all bestowed with a courtly politeness. I’ll experience heaven in the sky before my final moments on earth.
It would be an excellent way to spend my last twenty thousand dollars.