We have become used to life being a series of arrivals or departures, of triumphs and failures, with nothing noteworthy in between…
There is not much to say about most aeroplane journeys. Anything remarkable must be disastrous, so you define a good flight by negatives: you didn’t get hijacked, you didn’t crash, you didn’t throw up, you weren’t late, you weren’t nauseated by the food. So you are grateful.
The gratitude brings such relief you mind goes blank, which is appropriate, for the aeroplane passenger is a time-traveller. He crawls into a carpeted tube that is reeking of disinfectant; he is strapped in to go home, or away. Time is truncated, or in any case warped: he leaves in one time-zone and emerges in another. And from the moment he steps into the tube, and braces his knees on the seat in front, uncomfortably upright – from the moment he departs, his mind is focused on arrival.
Just for the record. While there are people who feel exactly like Paul Theroux, I don't.
I love travelling, and I love flying. Even if it was just for a 45 minutes flight from Rome to Brindisi as I did this morning.
I get into the plane. Make my little nest. Put up a psychological curtain between me and the other 127 people in this space, take a book, read a few lines, doze off, wake-up, gaze through the window at the ever-changing world, and admire the skills involved in landing this metal box safely on a strip which looks no bigger than a handkerchief.
I love flying.