Since my delightful first flight as an adult a couple of decades ago, flying is now something prosaic rather than pleasurable. Traveling by air has, understandably in light of recent events, become a series of routines to be endured as we move from A to B. No wonder that many welcome the Federal Aviation Authority’s new stance that portable electronics can now be used throughout a flight to listen to music, watch videos, and play games. Many passengers will push for further relaxation of those restrictions to allow internet and phone access. I will not be one of them.
Over the last year at altitude, I have been able to read numerous literary works I’ve been unable to get to while earthbound. Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Bates’s Love for Lydia, Fantastic Man’s Buttoned Up, and Melville’s Moby Dick (okay, I didn’t finish that one), for example. A friend of mine that frequently flies across the Pacific is a constant source of conversational interest as we exchange insights, concerns, revelations, and pleasures drawn from our respective readings (his latest read somewhat ironically being the contemporary dystopia in Dave Eggers’s The Circle).
Much of our public space is co-opted by commercial, social or other influences. There are fewer and fewer places that we can remove to, where we may allow ourselves to reflect and let our minds roam freely. Air travel literally takes us closer to the heavens. Why would we take our worldly cares with us, when untethered we can explore emotional and intellectual landscapes. When we enter the skies, we should dream.