Thirty-two thousand feet
Ok, so Flying. The human being is not designed to comfortably deal with sitting in a pressurized metal tube 32K of above blessed solid ground. We humans of the 6’ tall variety are further not designed to sit in a window seat, with business man in front doing the full recline thing. The thing about coach, one person leans back the rest of us are kind of compelled to as well.
Most folks are quiet commuters, immersed in their paper or what not. nobody likes being in here so we dive in to a book, music a website post to keep our minds off the absurdity of where we’ve placed ourselves for $300. A rare few cover it up with an excess of conversation with the first person that will listen, another effort at immortality by imposing your information on someone else.You’re remembered, you’re passed on lodged forcibly in consciousness of someone you’ve never met. The guy next to me is apparently comfortable with the status of his existence and thus nice and quiet (although he is taking up a lot of the arm-rest).
The view from up here. I love flying the planes with the route mapped on the little screen on the seat back in front of you. You can look down at nowhere, Ohio and wonder whose doing what, our existences mutually exclusive even though we occupy the same point on the 2-D screen.
I wonder if when my grandparents were born, they thought they’d see the tops of clouds on a regular basis. They lived in as much of an Accelerando as we do, maybe more so. (It’s a Kim Stanley-Robinson term, i won’t explain it because everyone should read him more). This week I saw the paper trial of a 20th century life. Tax returns from the 40’s, report cards from the 60’s. We wont have that. We’ll have a digital ghost maybe, magnetic memores of our 1040s that our kids will get on a disk, or it’s future-analog. Is that a loss ? i think I learned more about my grandparents this after a fit of cleaning in the Virginia house than I have in the past 10 years of brief visits.
Maybe that’s the story behind my loud-talking commuter three rows up. We haven’t left a physical mark as the previous generation did. Our correspondences disappear into the electronic aether. Our records, hell even our music and books, are all 0’s and 1’s. So we talk to the stranger across the aisle loud enough for the whole coach cabin to hear. We self importantly shout at our phones in the terminal, hoping to the deity of your choice that we’ve impacted someone, somewhere, as the proof of our existence is so terribly insubstantial. We tap out text messages to people we could just as easily call, etching ‘I love you, I miss you’ onto the electronic nothingness in the hopes that our children’s children might know us.