Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Life in Minutes

This weekend I watched one of my oldest friends (Nicole, see post below) get married. She is the first of our little group of childhood friends to get married, and I can't tell you how joyous a moment it was for me to be able to be standing next to her on her wedding day. I don't want to talk too much about the day, because I am really hoping to get Nicole back to Welcome to Adulthood for another guest blog to tell you all about it.

What I do want to talk about today is living. On the flight home from the wedding, I had an interesting experience that gave me about five minutes to reassess my life. Our plane tried to land in San Diego in the middle of a foggy, windy, rainy storm. I have flown many times in my life and I have never felt the kind of extreme turbulence I experienced on this flight. The lady in the seat next to me, who I had lent my magazine to a few minutes earlier, was clutching my arm and praying -- which did not help me to be calm on the brink of utter panic. My boyfriend was with me also. He, of course, ever stoic and valiant, says he "was not scared at all." But, I could tell by the yelps that most of the other people on the plane sounded pretty scared.

So here I am: falling in an airplane, with a strange lady clutching my arm. I am on the verge of a panic attack. I start thinking of all the worst-case scenarios and conclude that if we had to make a water landing, I would die right away because, not only am I a very poor swimmer, but I had consumed nothing but coffee that day and thus I would perish from dehydration. As I thought this, my mouth became more and more dry, my head began to pound, panic crept into me, gripping my breath and my stomach, and it was all I could do to not throw-up. Suddenly, a track from the ever-evolving Soundtrack of Mara turned on in my head and it calmed me. My plane crash music was Counting Crows, Anna Begins.

I spent the remainder of the flight with my eyes closed./My friend assures me, it's all or nothing. I am not worried. I am not overly concerned/I was silently bargaining with the mysterious fates that if we didn't crash I would vow to live every moment as my last./My friend implores me, "For one time only, make an exception." I am not worried./ In this five minute landing I thought about many things: Nicole's beautiful wedding, my life in San Diego, my family and cats ("Can I turn my phone on in turbulence to call my mom in the face of death even though 'FAA prohibits the use of personal electronic devices'!?"), and, oddly enough, my blog[*].

[*]This is the sign I am a hardcore blogger -- when faced with uncertain death, I wish I could have just blogged one more time...

When the plane landed, everyone cheered and embraced, but I found myself just numb./Wrap her up in a package of lies. Send her off to a coconut island./ Here I was, squished in the middle seat, and I had just assessed my life in 5 minutes./I am not worried. I am not overly concerned with the status of my emotions./ What conclusions had I come to? Certainly a re-commitment to living every moment as my last, but I also made other realizations that really did stir me, startle me, change me./"Oh" she says, "You're changing." We're always changing./ My life in minutes was a lot less clear-cut than it had seemed 5 minutes earlier./And I'm sure there's something in a shade of grey, or something in between, and I can always change my name if that's what you mean./

I walked off the plane, dizzy and nauseous and thirsty for analysis. In our search for the ever-elusive adulthood, complex intellectual assessment has to be both a benefit and a curse for adults. Sometimes, when you turn your mind on, you really can't turn it off very easily...

Your life in minutes -- assess it: What would you do differently? What would change in you? Would there be anything in shade of grey if life might end in five minutes, and then, miraculously didn't end? What would be playing in your mind soundtrack? You know, prior to this incident, I could have never predicted that Anna Begins would be my plane crash music. I would have rather had something like Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve, or Don't Stop Believing by Journey, or maybe Electric Pink by the Promise Ring, or Just Watch the Fireworks by Jimmy Eat World. But, you can't request a song when the mind soundtrack turns itself on, you just have to go with it and make it meaningful.

/She's talking in her sleep. It's keeping me awake. And Anna begins to toss and turn. And every word is nonsense but I understand and, oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing./


1 comment:

  1. I'm going down to Pixie's Where is my Mind.