Why long haul flying is good for you!
I'm a firm believer that however busy we are in our lives, as the consumer society we live in certainly likes to remind us, there is always time to relax and wind down. However, we don't always get the choice of when to relax, it is often forced upon us.
Forced relaxation - now there's a novel idea, and here's how I came to this conclusion... Right now as I sit here at 30,000 ft writing this, (at least I assume I'm writing this as the seat in front of me is so reclined and so close that the angle of my lap-top screen means I can't see a thing - I hope it's turned on...) in my slightly too cramped space, with my slightly too close neighbours and my total lack of 'control', I realize that 10 hours flying over the Atlantic is the perfect de-stressor!
I know what you're thinking; I've had too much of the complimentary cheap wine with my dinner and I'm not making sense. Well you're wrong, I'm making total sense, and this is why; My day started early after a late night of last minute socializing; a screeching alarm, last minute stuffing of last minute shopping into too small luggage, weighing bags, hurried goodbyes, hustling my baggage through the impatient rush hour commuters, checking in line-ups, seemingly endless airport security - boots off, belt off, watch off, lap-top out, empty pockets - boots on, belt on, watch on, lap-top away - only it doesn't seem to fit any more, like my carry on bag has shrunk while being X-ray'd, grab my pocket contents and 'move away quickly sir'! I've yet to figure out why the pace of undressing before the X-ray machine is so much more sedate than the speed dressing after - I feel like the elicit lover making his quick escape because the front door opened... and there's still two hours before boarding - a classic case of hurry up and wait!
But now we get to my point; I now have nothing to think about until sometime tomorrow other than which gate I need to be at and at what time. One glance at the departures screen and I'm all done - my responsibilities are over for the next 12 hours - and it's bliss! I can spend more time in a book shop than I ever normally get to, I can sit in a bar on my own with a beer at 11 am without looking like a desperate drunk, I even enjoy browsing all the naff gadgets in the duty-free shops - and as for the people watching, don't get me started...
Once boarded, life actually gets even easier; grab a few necessities, (book, music, headphones, water) from my carry on and stuff what's left into the overhead storage - sit down, belt up and relax. Ok, so it's not the stretched out seating they tease us with as we make our way through first and business back to cattle class and I seem to be surrounded by over-tanned shorts and flip-flop wearing 'two weeks in the sun' vacation types and everyone seems to be carrying a crying baby but it's reassuringly calming and relaxing. From now on, the whys, hows and wherefores of getting us to our destination is down to a small group of strangers dressed is slightly strange attire. I am out of control - literally - there is nothing I can do about anything and I accept this fact with ease and total comfort. Even my meals are planned for me; what I can eat at what time, right down to my choice of wine - red or white! I now have 10 hours of complete and utter selfish 'me' time. I can flick through the airline's magazine and dream about where I want to go next, read my book, listen to music, write a blog post, watch my choice of TV from comedies and dramas to a whole bunch of films - both up to date and classic oldies. I can even grab a few hours sleep - ok, perhaps that's a little wishful thinking... What's a little cricked neck and aching knees in exchange for 5,000 miles of guilt free laziness... This is my time to really lay back, (well, maybe not actually lay) relax and recharge :-)
So, is there a message in this post for those who don't find themselves in this situation very often? Yes, there absolutely is; although most people's days start just as early with at least as much pressure and stress as any pre-flight travelling, most days also have at least some time where we have no control of what goes on; stuck in traffic, waiting in a queue, on hold on the phone... These moments are precious, we should embrace them, switch off the thinking, the worry, lose the self importance and just go with the flow - try it sometime, it really is rather refreshing and totally stress relieving... :-)