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Risky Business

September 9, 2009

Okay. I’ll admit it. I’m superstitious. I throw salt over my shoulder (well, both, just to be safe) if it spills. I believe in Karma. And ghosts. And because I’m a nervous flyer, if I’m going on a plane, I do everything within my mental power to convince myself that the plane won’t crash. It was this that allowed me to have a very interesting…and, er, open…conversation with my hair stylist the other day. I mean, what else do talk about when you’re stuck in a chair for an hour with a relatively strange person’s hands in your hair? Your crazy personality traits and your inner-most fears, of course.

But the funny thing is…we turned out to be exactly the same in the non-sensible way we think! I told her that when I initially board a plane, I immediately look to see how many little children are onboard too. Because there’s no way God would let a plane full of cute little children and babies crash. Crazy, I know. It doesn’t make any sense. But it comforts me. I also believe that if I don’t say a little prayer, the plane is more likely to crash. My hair stylist (Sara, coincidentally) is the SAME way. And I’m 99% sure she wasn’t just humoring me to get a big tip. She said she once boarded a flight with a slew of soldiers returning from Iraq onboard. She breathed easy during that flight. There was almost NO chance that those soldiers could live through fighting a war in Iraq, but then die in a plane crash on the way home. I like to think that it was therapeutic for both of us to find out we were kindred spirits. We both admitted that we thought, surely, we must be the only ones. But we wondered aloud how many people on planes might play the same mental games we do. Everyone always looks so calm and bored.

Which led us to the ultimate question: if you knew when and how you were going to die, would you want to know? Sara said no. She pointed out that if she found out she was going to die at 42, once that year rolled around, she’d be waiting for death every day. I said that I think I’d like to know. If I found out, for instance, that I was going to die of cancer at the age of 57, I’d have much more pleasant flying experiences for the rest of my life. And, sure, if I found out that I was going to die at the age of 30 in a car crash, that would be disappointing. But, I’d be living it up until then. I wouldn’t put off traveling the world until after I retire. I’d go sky diving. Sara reluctantly admitted that you could take a lot of risks. “Ah,” I said, “but, if you knew you wouldn’t die, I suppose it wouldn’t be a risk.”

The joy of living is the risky business, even if I’m not the biggest risk taker of them all. So, I guess I’ll continue to live life slightly worried. On plane flights, I’ll play the game. I’ll act calm and bored. I’ll glance at my watch. I’ll sigh. It’s so taboo to look like you might be a nervous flyer. But on the inside, I’ll be crying. And silently counting children.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tracy permalink
    September 10, 2009 9:47 am

    I always do the sign of the cross just as we are taking off. If I don’t, the plane will crash. I am CERTAIN of this.

  2. Kelly permalink
    September 10, 2009 3:01 pm

    haha i love charlie brown. He is my kindred spirit!

    Every-time I go on a plane its more like “It would be so like my life to have THIS one plane not make it off the runway but instead crash into that distant fence!” and everyone die. Then once it makes it past that point I am ok.

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