Relaxed At 7000 Feet
The World Under Corona Virus: Lessons Learned
I have always been intrigued by airplanes and air travel - How these giant machines can actually be 'driven' in the sky. The law of aerodynamics gives some understanding of this 'miracle' – how something as large as a Boeing 747 can taxi along a runway, take off, remain in the air, get to its destination, descend and land simply by harnessing the power of the wind.
As a young child, a trip to the airport was a major adventure. It is such a bustling busy place with many, many interesting sights. There were brightly lit shops with an endless array of wares; airline counters buzzing with passengers waiting in line to buy tickets, check-in luggage and collect boarding passes; departure and arrival lounges bustling with activity. I was ever curious to know where the sounds were coming from whenever the ding dong of the P.A system rung out with flight announcements.
But the allure of the airport came from the constant flow of human traffic. It was mesmerizing to watch so many people come and go. Cars drove up to the airport entrance while their harried occupants loaded up countless pieces of luggage unto trolleys and hurried in. Overzealous security personnel ordered drivers to the car park with threats of impoundment. Other personnel at the gate ordered non-travelers to wait outside. Travelers went through security checks before being allowed into the departure lounge to await their flights. Inbound travelers filled the arrival lounge, picked up their luggage, and then spilled out into the car park to waiting vehicles or taxis.
Then there were the planes - sitting on the tarmac like giant majestic birds. I could see them from the large airport windows – always white with airline names on the side and logos on the tails with little rows of windows neatly arranged on each side.
I remember watching documentaries and television programs about long-distance international flights and romanticizing the whole idea of long-distance travel. I dreamt of long haul flights to far-flung countries; cozying up to sleep under weighted blankets while being tucked in by smiling air hostesses. I imagined the ambiance of the dimly lit airplane cabin with darkness, the moon, and clouds for company while being lulled to sleep by muted music.
Hmmm. But, my purpose is not to bore you with my romantic ideas about air travel but rather to share something I learned. You know that some minutes into the flight, the pilot will make an announcement that sounds something like 'This is your captain speaking. We have reached a cruising altitude of 7000 feet. Our E.T.A to ................... airport is __:__ am/pm. Relax and enjoy your flight' which got me thinking about the current world situation occasioned by lockdowns, stay at home orders, school and business closures as well as movement restrictions.
On a normal day, (on land of course) we are hurried and harried, rushing off to one activity or another; going here and going there; doing this and doing that; ever busy with school runs, meetings, grocery runs, church activities, work, childcare, visiting loved ones, house chores and so forth. Traffic jams, queues, crowds, and other stressors besiege us daily - even vacations have become stressors. The list is endless and we become so conditioned to operating at this breakneck pace of life that we think it is normal. Any sudden change, shake, or tweak in the chain throws us off and leaves us floundering, insecure, and unsure of how to navigate 'the new normal’. We are confused and bereft of clear direction. We realize we didn’t exactly like the hectic pace but somehow grew accustomed to it and allowed ourselves be borne aloft by the fast-flowing stream of life.
We have allowed ourselves be overworked, passed up vacations, and leave days and balked at any suggestions that we need rest. Even when our bodies cry out with disease, illnesses, low Immunity, burn out and so on, we still don’t pay attention. Quite unfortunately, the wake-up call is often life-shattering and unpleasant – terminal diagnosis, health scares, long term debilitating illnesses, ER visits, etc. We don’t have to wait for cataclysmic events to force us to slow down. Our bodies are not designed to continuously operate at that hectic pace and will normally give warning signs In the form of physical, emotional, or mental health challenges.
Sometimes, to force a slowdown and save us from destroying ourselves, we have to be taken to unfamiliar terrain where we must 'Sit back and relax at 7000 feet' much like the captain’s announcement. A place where there is little we can do besides sit back, relax, read a book, enjoy soothing music or a movie, enjoy the view, sleep, read and chat with your fellow passengers.
The world is currently in 'Sit back and relax at 7000 feet mode' with mandatory lockdowns and stay at home orders; school, office, and business closures as well as entertainment, fitness, and other events venue closures occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic. It is a strange time and one that is new to many people.
Let me offer some unsolicited advice as we navigate what is fast becoming 'The New Normal'
• You don’t know the extent of damage to your body from prolonged overwork, stress, and lack of adequate rest. Allow your body to recover
• Home is your sanctuary. Enjoy it
• This is your time to relax, reflect, be refreshed, REST and rejuvenate
• Catch up with the significant people in your life. Rekindle and repair broken relationships
• Touch base with neighbors
• Enjoy family time
• Rediscover the joys and strengths you draw from things you love
• Go back to the simple pleasures – prayer and meditation; gardening; reading; spring cleaning; watching old movies, music, art, baking, dancing, exercise and being present with family
This is your '7000 feet’. Make the best of it