The world flies quick under my feet. At 10.000 meters altitude everything looks so small and insignificant... Hour after hour those seas, valleys, mountains, fade away in the distance as if they were a simple scale model. These are hours most people consider as wasted, with not much to do with. Some play cards, others watch movies on their personal video systems, or their ipads. Only a few read a book. Most of them just sleep.
For me these are moments of myself. Time to look inside, to look backwards. How did I get here? Is this the place I wanted to be some years ago? Seems impossible not to ask easy questions like, are you happy with what you are doing right now? It seems as impossible fall into thinking how pointless is where you wanted to be, since the facts are that you are here, whether you like it or not.
However I have to admit from time to time I enjoy these times for myself, a bit of talking to me, to make peace with myself. As a good friend taught me some time ago, enjoy this time since it's only for me and nobody else. During the 9 hours this flight lasts there are no meetings, no compromises, I don't need to look good to anybody, make anyone happy, nor worry about what time it is. An airplane trip becomes then time to relax, to release all responsibilities, since nothing at all depends on you. A time you are able to disconnect, to relax, to close your eyes and seek what is the truth inside yourself, what does it mean to be the person you are, dedicate some time to yourself, to redefine yourself it needs be. Search for your inner peace, get ready to be who you are when you leave the airport. What's your next destination? What do you expect form it? What do you want to do with your time in the next days, or months? And above all: What do you plan to make it happen?
I have to confess something.
I remember long, long time ago, when I barely had any kind of self consciousness, when I still raised my arms asking the grownups around to take me up and to make silly faces just to make me laugh. One of these grownups was my grandfather Nicolas. The last memory I have about him was at the hallway in his place, one of those long corridors that seem to have no end. He was coming back from the street, and I was waiting there for him. I stood in the corridor, my arms raised. I don't recall whether I said any word, or just stayed there waiting for him to cheer me up. But I do remember his laughter. His face full of marks, smiling and making silly faces so that I would laugh. Nicolas died when I was about 2 or 3. I'm not even sure when. But one day he was gone.
I remember a hospital. A waiting room, since children were not allowed in. I remember rain, and a 70's green phone boot, and questions to my mum whether that was the phone that E.T. used to phone home. I also remember that Nicolas never went back to that corridor. Or any other place. He just disappeared. He vanished, became nothing, just a memory.
Back then I had no fucking clue what death was. I just know I felt confused because that man was there no more, and everyone else was sad. I took many more years to get to know what was that thing of dying. Many years after Abu departed. Abu was my grandmother. I don't even remember her name, and I don't care that my family read this and think I'm a moron, because for me she was always just Abu. Abu died at her place, and I remember everyone crying, and Abu lying there lifeless. Being but not being there. I remember promising her I would not cry, because everyone else was doing so, and somebody needed to stay in one piece.
Life went on and taught me many things I did not want to learn, like out there there were things called wars where people killed each other not really knowing why. Or doing so, what's the difference? In any case I had to serve in the army and for me that was just a boring thing that I did not want to do, simply because it was cool to go against the rule. I kept using the excuse that I was in university to postpone the service some years, and considered to claim to be conscientious objector even though I did not care at all to be honest. But in fact that objection became a truth and I realized I had like a million reasons to not want to serve in the army. I did not want to learn how to use a weapon. I did not want, under any circumstance, make any person to cease to exist.
Death itself was a very well defined concept in my mind, and I had already a clear idea that one day it would be my day. But back then I only worried about that moment to be a quick, painless one. And I did not care about what happens at that moment, since it would be not important any more, it would just be. It would only matter for those who stayed, like that day years ago around Abu. I was not afraid of death. Death was simply natural.
Some day, around 2 or 3 years ago, I woke up one morning terrorized by a nightmare. In that dream somebody died. It wasn't me, but I could feel it in my flesh. And all of a sudden a terrible fear was born about the nothingness after death, about the falling into the void of memory. For a couple of weeks I was convinced that it had been some sort of premonitory dream, and that someone close was going to die. The dream became recurrent, and the anxiety every morning put a knot in my throat that killed me day after day. Time went by and nobody close died, and slowly that dream stopped bugging me. But the fear to nothingness stayed.
During the last two years I've been trying to find a way to leave that baggage behind. Religion is not for me and I don't believe in the afterlife. I tried to simply forgot about it, but every time I read about death (specially in a war) that old sensation comes back and poisons me for a couple of days. Only a couple of weeks ago I was finally able to realize that every single day, when I fall asleep I do die, just to resuscitate the next morning. And now I know it will be a day that I won't resuscitate. I let me be driven by the joy of every morning's resuscitation, of having one more day to enjoy and do something with. I am still working on forgetting that ugly sensation once and for all, but for now I'm okay with feeling alive every time I wake up. And to fight death with life, trying my best to do whatever makes me feel alive.
Airplanes are perfect places to think about oneself, for making peace with yourself. I have been carrying this weight for way too long, and so far only one person knew about it. This is my fear, and this is my way to exorcise it.
The trip has begun. It's time to feel alive.
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