Up in the Air

I’m not scared of flying, per se. I am one of those weird people who actually enjoys airports and the travel process (though granted, the two or so times that I actually fly per year is a lot different than someone living life Up in the Air).

I enjoy the rush of take off but especially love the relief of hearing the wheels touch down. I have watched the sun set over the clouds, seen lightning illuminate the stars, and marveled over how rural Raleigh actually looks from the air.

No, I’m not scared of flying – I just prefer to be on the ground.

Why?

Likely the same reason that many other people feel, whether or not they can put their finger on it – I don’t like the loss of control. I can never fall asleep on the plane, and really, it would be nice if I could. Nothing is more amusing to me than seeing someone conked out on a plane, mouth hanging open. Maybe a little drool here and there.

But no, I must stay awake and hold the plane up in the air by sheer force of will (I’m completely kidding, here…please don’t report me to the psych ward).

Everyone knows that planes were meant to fly. Planes want to fly. But the idea of not being in control – well, that can be scary.

Similarly, not being in control of your own body is scary.

The human body is an absolutely amazing thing, really. We as humans are so resilient – and the human body can survive and bounce back from some pretty horrific things, whether it be an illness or injury. Just like a plane wants to stay aloft, our bodies want to find a way to survive.

But what happens when it can’t? Or when it has been irreparably changed?

I’ve had the opportunity to think about this in different ways over the past year, both after my dad’s stroke and with my injury. And, of course both had very different outcomes.

With my dad – well, for the first time in my life, I couldn’t wish something into being just by thinking about it really hard, being tenacious and making it happen. No amount of work, praying/good thoughts/what have you, or anything I could do would ultimately change that outcome.

And the question becomes why? Why did someone who did everything “right” that he could, ultimately end up dying?  I understood intrinsically what happened. What I didn’t understand was how his body could just fail him. It seemed like some cruel joke. Sort of like when a drunk driver walks away from a horrible accident without a scratch.

On the other hand, I know “why” my injury happened – I got kicked. Wrong place, wrong time. Here, the “why” meant something different. The why became one of circumstances – why did this happen to me? And more so, why now, after everything else?

But all of these questions came down to one simple fact – none of this was within my control.

Now, if you smoke two packs a day for ten years, you probably shouldn’t be all that surprised when your doctor has some bad news for you.

But, every day things like what happened to me – things beyond our control – just happen.

Interestingly, we celebrate things that are beyond our control when they bring good things – we call that luck. We are a series of paradoxes, it seems.

What is funny is that we readily accept luck. We welcome this loss of control because it brings us good fortune. But you can’t deny that life is a balance of both the good and the bad.

And because we can’t change it, we can only adjust our way of thinking about it. I’ll never completely understand why I had to lose my dad so soon or why I happened to be standing where I was when I was kicked.

But I would also be amiss to ignore that fact that I was incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful father. And that I’m lucky every day I get to wake up and enjoy a life that could have been quite different just under five months ago.

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