Some musings at 30,000 feet

I find myself travelling again.
I was aboard a flight last week—doing my impression of a sardine. The man sitting next to me was typing on his laptop and his elbows were spilling over into my seat, though he tried to contain them.
His legs are twice as long as the space is designed for.
I try to be the last one boarding the aircraft to limit my issue with confined spaces (we don’t like one another). I watch passengers drag their carry-on luggage onboard—bundles and bags that clearly exceed the limit that the rules allow (rules that few travellers heed).
Perhaps in my lifetime, I will be able to teleport, with a simple “Beam me up, Scottie,” and not bother with airports and line-ups and baggage and security, where we are obligated to strip down to be sure I’m not hiding an AK-47 assault rifle in the waistband of my tights or in the heel of my shoe.
Remember when we could fit into our seats in economy class without the use of a shoe-horn or winch. Remember when the airlines would dazzle us with service, rather than pretend they are doing us a favour as they allow us to board their aircraft as if we are a gang of hitch-hikers.
The good old days—before we had to mortgage the house to pay for a flight across this crazy huge country.
When did I become this eccentric? Why is travel a test of my will, my stamina? Had I grown up in the bosom of a city, my family crammed into an apartment building with ridiculous numbers of floors, would I better cope with this lack of oxygen with no room to stretch?
Was my childhood spent outdoors—exploring, playing without boundaries—poor preparation for the world that now exists.
I look around at the faces with whom I am sharing this flight and most of them look calm and comfortable, not the least bit of fussing internally as I am. We are like a beautiful bowl of fruit, with oranges and purple plums and brilliant shining apples, as well as wedges of yellow pineapple.
We have white hair and withered frames, and darker than dark eyes, and red heads and brown skin and pasty white, and the whole range of ethnic roots in this human cornucopia.
It is a beautiful thing—all of us together soaring more than 30,000 feet above the Earth.
It gets me thinking about the bowl of fruit to the south of us, where homogenous is now the goal. Where those who deviate from what is considered acceptable once again must be fearful of their safety.
Their sense of belonging and their national pride is threatened because an electorate lost sight of its obligations to humanity and integrity.
I am fearful in this aircraft, anxious about the close quarters—a worry that is nonsensical compared to the threat at hand for the madness of a system that would see a man rise to power when he came up short in the popular vote in excess of 1.2 million votes (at last count) in a country that sees itself as a super power; the greatest nation on Earth (a self-gratifying declaration).
I’m not sure how I hold back despair and hopelessness at this moment. We’re no longer laughing at the absurdity of the possibility of such an election result.
The pundits are weaving an explanation as to how this happened and why. But there is no rationalization. We had better buckle up; we’re in for a rough ride while Mr. Super Power puts at jeopardy all that goodness and decency has achieved.
And just when I was beginning to feel we were making the tiniest progress as a global community.
wendistewart@live.ca

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