Miraculously landed on the earth at O’Hare airport from my flight from Las Vegas where I had spent 3 days and 3 nights to attend a conference. During the final harrowing 3 hours of the flight, the pilot repeatedly announced “ladies and gentlemen. We are about 30 minutes from landing in Chicago, but we should be fine because we still have about 40 minutes of fuel left in the tank.” He made that announcement about 7 times.
Somewhere around the 3rd announcement and the third interval of 30 minutes, utter terror took hold of me. I could not focus on the article in The Atlantic on the “secrets of the creative brain.” I could not focus on the flight entertainment, an HBO series that I actually was enjoying. Suddenly my entire system shut down. All of I could think about were the seconds ticking away and the fuel tank running on fumes.
And through the window, torrential rain and lightning, and the earth rising and falling and spinning, and the lights of some city i could not recognize.
And then the flight attended spoke on the PA system to instruct the passenger using the bathroom to stay there until we had landed.
How I could I not fear that these might be my last moments?
And then I thought, but I’m not ready to go yet. Wherever we are hurdling towards, I am not ready to go there just yet.
And then I began to reflect upon the friends, pets and family members I have lost over the years and wondered if they might be angels, watching over me and if we would all be reunited in the afterlife.
And then I remembered that I was simply re-running the final episode of a TV series. And all of the friends, pets and family members I imagined were only characters on the show.
And I thought about my choice to move to the exit row, just so I could have more leg room. Would I really have the courage to do anything beyond panic?
“oh, Las Vegas!!” I cried out to the city I could not wait to flee. “if this flight was your vengeance for the disparaging things i wrote or said about you, please know that it was all in jest. i didn’t mean to hurt you.” but i don’t think i sounded very convincing.