The Transient World of the Aeroplane
March 30, 2012 Leave a comment
Sitting in a plane at 2.30 am and knowing that there is another 8 hours of suspension in the air–typing on your smartphone to try and pass the time. There is a feeling that this is only a transitory world, and at that, a mind-numbing purgatory. Yet, the knowledge of this temporary existence reminds you of the depravity of the human body.
Next to you, is the solitary snorer on the plane, the problem is the only time he seems to snore is when you’re about to nod off and fall asleep. Behind you, there is the man who insists on playing Angry Birds on full volume–he can afford an iPad but not headphones apparently. With the symphonic cackle of birds and short-breathed groaning like the sound you make when repeatedly told your pet cat died, conspiring to cause me grief, frustration is becoming an appropriate word.
Moreover, there is a brooding helplessness knowing your brother is asleep next to you in the aisle seat. There is zero chance of escaping down to the toilet. I don’t even need to go to the toilet–it’s evidence of how much I worry perhaps. The fear of never being able to get out in the situation that I need to go to the toilet, even if only to vainly stare into the mirror for a few seconds. Feeling taken from all sides, in a seat that is too small for me, there is a sense of being trapped by adversity and this world is too small. Sitting in the plane, I feel very big in a small world.
The fear of my cramped feet terrifies me, it’s not so much that they are cramped–I slouch down to fit my feet neatly under the seat in front of me–but that if they were cramped. I’m not a claustrophobic person, but any person in a plane should seem to be prone to many fears not previously known coming to the surface of my conciousness. In the previous world, where we were on holiday–that is quickly forgotten as we take on our depraved state hoisted in the air–so quickly things change that nothing in the previous could have prepared us for. Helpless is the feeling when I spend too long thinking about the present–it seems to make us forget of the future where we would finally make it home.
Forgetting the destination, the existential longing for freedom begins to amount to a lot less. People become contented with walking down the aisle as their form of heaven, people think that a glass could contain all the waters of the world, and the food is from the banquet tables of kings. The thirst and the hunger become contented with crumbs and shadows of beauty and wonder. There is much frustration, but there is a hope that this world is only temporary. I feel that many people seem to want to embrace this world of flight with buying seats with more leg-room and seats that bend backwards flat, with greater choice in meals, with greater entertainment systems. Yet, I feel they are only strawmen as we approach in for landing in this new world.
Stepping off the plane the present worries are lost and the kingdom in the air is forgotten. In the scale of this world outside of this aircraft, the petty trials and temptations are lost–almost ridiculous in a way that they are quickly forgotten. We are home and rest is finally found. Heaven is this world we emerge into, the past will be forgotten, as we emerge into resplendent glory and infinite freedom in Christ.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalms 27v.14