Takeoffs And LandingsDelhi, Spring 2012
Once while sitting in an airplane before departure the woman next to me turned and said, “takeoffs and landings are the part of the flight you should be scared of – they’re where ninety percent of the crashes occur.” And with that we took off.
It took me less than a minute on the internet to confirm that this was a completely fabricated statistic, but I still manage to recall our conversation each flight I board. This has been a reoccurring though of mine in the last few weeks as my time has been broken up by sleeping in terminals and safety instruction videos. I flew home for winter break from school in Washington and left a week later for a trip to Hawaii. I have had a lot of time to think about takeoffs and landings.
As my plane left Hawaii on Wednesday I was once again reacquainted with the strange surge that ensues at the wheels jitter on the tarmac before takeoff – a strangeness that I would characterize as the suspension of the unknown. For that quick upward moment the anticipation of the journey meets the weight of what is left behind, everything is left in a place of mystery until the wheels touch down again.
The feeling of anxiety and movement, of something new beginning, of saying goodbyes, the feeling of takeoffs is how I would characterize my planning for my coming semester abroad in India. The fear that the woman I sat beside on the flight felt (though factually unsound) is the exactly how I feel now embarking on this journey. Everything happens all to fast and shaken. All that I can do is go through the motions, follow the steps, and trust that I will safely takeoff.
When people ask me if I am “ready” to go abroad for this semester I typically tell them that I’m ready to the extent that I followed the packing list and looked at satellite pictures of my home-stay on GoogleEarth. But no, I am not “ready.” I am simply prepared to live in the suspension of the unknown, to accept the framework of mystery, and to relearn who I am in a new place.
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