***Hi, these are words on a page. No intervention is necessary, so just don’t. Thanks***
The edges are beginning to fray. At this speed, for this long, the ribbons of my sanity have begun unraveling in the winds of my personal catastrophe. I’ve always thrived on stress. Motivated and guided by it, the beatdown has pushed me to care about putting one foot in front of the other.
But I’ve found myself waiting for the crash, expectant, optimistic even. Eager for the day that it all comes falling out of the sky. If the universe is what does me in, then I don’t have to view my life as a protracted exercise in abject failure. Years spent sprinting in pursuit of a fallacious goal that, in the end, was beyond my grasp.
A plane crash.
The de-icing crew had the new guy mix the de-icing fluid. It wasn’t his fault that he mixed it wrong and we just took a 1,000 gallon bath in water and not propylene glycol. He didn’t know. The flap servos are freezing inside a cocoon of ice as the pilots lose both lateral and lift control of this A320 somewhere between SLC and Billings. Flight grows rougher, our movements inside the cabin beginning to not make logical sense.
If the plane falls out of the sky, a technological George RR Martin novel, this ice dragon plummeting in a shower of ice and fire, then I wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t a terrible father. I didn’t fake my way through graduate school. If my race is finished by the universe, then it wasn’t I who failed.
It isn’t that I’m hoping for a crash, per se, it’s just that I wouldn’t really be that disappointed by one. The universe won’t miss me. Somebody smarter who tried harder will wind up at your grandmother’s bedside. A better father will step into my shoes, I just need to get out of the way. There is a line of more attentive husbands waiting in the wings…
This could be an expression of depression. It isn’t a plan or design, just an observation that death isn’t always the worst that could happen.
The guy in the seat ahead of me is already wearing a yellow, emergency non-rebreather mask. This is distracting. What is that about? What is he up to? Does he know something I don’t? Is he a hallucination? Am I that far gone? Have I started hallucinating and just haven’t realized it yet?
When you finally make a conscious realization and acknowledgment that the things you’re seeing may not necessarily be real or present, how long has it been going on that way? When was your last lucid day? When was the last day everything that you think you saw and did were real in the real world? It could be yesterday, or could it be that you’ve been on a Fisher King quest for years, with family and loved ones, at first despondent, now following from a distance only as much as their broken hearts can allow?
I found myself entertaining the idea of a plane crash while on an airplane. It’s possible that this may be a unique setting in which to contemplate a disaster… It’s possible that this may mean something. It’s possible that a plane crash may not be the worst thing that could happen. It’s possible that a violent, mid-air collision or sudden loss of cabin pressure may be greeted with a relieved sigh.
And there is that guy already wearing the yellow, non-rebreather mask. Where did he get that thing? Is he my hallucination? Am I Jim Morrison? Is he my indian? What are you trying to tell me already wearing that mask?
There is a saying about the pace of life not being the problem, but the sudden stop at the end. I used to believe it. I used to believe that life was a journey and not a destination. I used to believe that I could just keep sprinting and the end would come someday. And sprinting. And sprinting. The pace never slowing, in fact always finding ways to add new problems to the bag. Always making more room. Adding. Adding.
Once you’ve proven you can do a thing, there is no taking it back. There is only room for more, to add more.
You begin engaging in risky behaviors to keep pace. You begin engaging in ill-advised activities, without real fear of consequence or harm. Chaos becomes reward, annihilation a blessing. The sweet release of nothingness. You begin to have these thoughts.
But when did it start, when did they begin? When did the pressure of the race become too great? When did you begin trying to sabotage yourself? Was it part of your sanity? Chickens and eggs. Is the destruction a symptom of the friable sanity, or was sanity one of the first things destroyed? Have I become crazy because I needed destruction, or did I begin the destruction because I went crazy?
When was my last truly sane day?
And why is that guy wearing an oxygen mask? And why does it look like the ones they demonstrate with? Is he my imagination? Should I be preparing for a water landing? Does he know something that I do not? Why has my oxygen mask not dropped from the ceiling already filling with the life-giving miracles of supplemental oxygen?
Do I need to use my seat as a flotation device?
Oh, good. Extreme turbulence. This A320, equipped with the latest and greatest, freshly bathed in many hundreds of gallons of antifreeze, is shaking through the sky. Descent. My favorite part is always descent. The end of powered flight. When you float back in, skipping on the wind. The aircraft no longer forcing its way through the sky via the propulsion of the engines, but coasting in on the whimsy of the winds.
This is going to be a bumpy ride.
The captain has turned on the…
The captain has turned on the wifi light.
In the event of a catastrophic loss of cabin pressure, it is our primary goal here at Delta to ensure that you are docile and high, hyperoxic and bemused with hi-speed cat video downloads.
Maybe there will be wind-sheer. Wildlife on the runway. Unregistered and unauthorized drone activity. Aliens.
These things never show up. We always land. We never roll belly-up, mid-flight. We always walk onto the concourse, left to fail on my own for another day.
It isn’t the sudden stop at the end. The universe won’t care. It’s the decades of sprinting, finally worn out and done. Praying for the crash. Chasing distractions. Longing for the little deaths. Unafraid of the end. Not seeking it, but not really scared by it, either.