I'm on an airplane to Chicago next to a member of the Chicago roller derby team, which is ranked 2nd in the world. She is also from Grand Rapids, MI, 30 miles from where I grew up. Born so close together, I hope we don't die.
People on airplanes seem to either be afraid of taking off or landing. I'm the only one I know who is genuinely concerned about collisions in the air with other airplanes. I have no rational basis for this fear. The news is not filled with devastating instances of fiery crashes in the air. However, it only takes one hung over air traffic controller and, bam, air collision, screaming through the sky strapped to this row of 3 seats. I suppose I would shout at the Chicago roller derby woman and try to calm her down. I would tell her "There's so much more than this! It's going to be really good, I promise!" Worrying about air collisions makes for a much higher stress level than the other fears. Take offers or landers have only a small window of terror, whereas I prepare for impact the whole flight.
I suppose I'm that kind of guy.
Being plagued somewhat by calendar based superstition, I'm for the most part certain that I'm going to Chicago to get dumped. This is of course a completely faulty defense mechanism because there's really no readiness in the fear of getting dumped. It's still a shocking jolt to one's worldview, which seems like an overly nice way to put it but I'm writing on an iPhone and not big on editing at the moment.
I've just been remembering myself, with compassion for what's coming for that guy, last August 5th. I was in Nova Scotia, naive, unsuspecting, not even considering the possibility that I was merely days away from the end of the relationship that had ended both our marriages. Cruise control. La-di-da. August 11. Fiery collision. I would drink at the airport and stay drunk for 8 days until a car accident raised my bottom high enough to start working Steps. There's a good argument for me deserving everything I got and there's even the bright side of sobriety but, man, the big lesson is that you just never see it coming. How about these poor fuckers who get peeled on the highway? Think too hard about it and you might never leave the house unless the carbon monoxide drives you into the street where a bus mows you down.
But this is all excessively negative. Being aware of the inevitable demise of everything can also make you alert in ways that you might otherwise neglect. Last night I had ice cream with my kids and it was so sweet and delicious. Eat everything as if you're on death row. And I made sure to hold my gaze into my son's eyes for an extra uncomfortable second and really add an extra POP! to my daughter's kiss because this goddamn airplane comes with no guarantees.
And what choice do I really have but to get on this plane with the assumption that it will land safely and to go to Chicago with the assumption that I'll leave on August 11th with my heart still in my chest? I can fear the worst and feel anxious but, if the last year taught me anything, it taught me to act better than I feel. Seriously. Just act better than I feel and, strangely, wondrously, I slowly begin to feel the way I'm acting. Gwen made a blueberry pie. People plotting to abandon you don't tend to make you blueberry pies. Unless there's arsenic in it. But, today, I will act as if there's no arsenic in my blueberry pie, just as I will act as if this plane will soon land and the Chicago roller derby girl next to me will live another day to skate and bash other skating women into submission, to rip apart their dreams, and even they too, the defeated ones, will rise once more to skate again, and again, because that's what we do: rip ourselves open to each and every seamless moment of creation and destruction, saunter on to airplanes, love again with reckless abandon and wide open hearts, and we eat the damn pie as if we're on death row, hopefully, faithfully, smiling, quivering on the razor between life and death as blueberry filling drips down our happy nervous chins.