I enjoy watching my fellow passengers whenever I decide to use an airliner to travel somewhere. I wonder if they are feeling nonchalant or putting on an act about their attitudes about flying. Consider that we’re at the mercy of a rather flimsy winged tube taking off and landing at a speed of around 140 knots or roughly 180 mph. That vehicle may climb up to an altitude of 30,000 to 40,000 feet and cruise at around 480 knots or about 550 miles an hour. It’s cold at that height, too, -35C or -31F.
I actually took notes once when one airline pilot announced the statistics over the public address speakers a few years ago. It was my way of facing my own trepidations of taking a flight from Chicago to Amsterdam. The runways at Chicago looked like trenches dug out of several feet of snow. Ground conditions were snowy and blustery.
Some of the passengers kept busy stowing their carry-on bags into overhead bins. Some decided to rearrange their duffle bags or move them to other bins. People talked and flipped through magazines. Most of the passengers watched movies or programming on the LED screens mounted on the seatbacks in front of them. I preferred to watch the map of our flight, most of the time. I was amused to see that some passengers in window seats, closed the window blinds (for privacy?) while they snoozed during the red-eye flight.
During all the nervous activity, I only wanted to look out the window to watch the dark Earth and sky. I thought about how fantastic, amazing, and treacherous it was to be aloft over the Atlantic Ocean in the dead of Winter. What a thrill. My seatmate slept through it all.
Some of us have pondered the act of thought. That’s a peculiar activity. You think about thinking. We do a little bit of thinking by visualizing images. However, most of our thinking is thinking in words. Years ago, my late partner, Takeo, decided to teach me how to speak and write Japanese. We both considered it a milestone, after I noticed that I had been thinking in Japanese. I felt like I had morphed into a different state of being. But thinking about thinking in Japanese jolted my mind back into thinking in English. Thinking in non-native languages can bring touchy states of mind.
Thinking is simply talking to myself. It’s like reading a book or webpage without moving ones lips. Words appear in the mind. If you observe carefully, you can also hear them, even though there are no soundwaves of the voice in the outer world. When I was a little boy, mom caught me in the act of talking to myself. She told me to be careful, because only crazy people talk to themselves. Henceforth, whenever there was a risk of other people coming around, I stopped talking or singing to myself. But not really. Instead of opening my mouth and using my larynx to say or sing something, I just carried along inside my mind. That way, I could talk to myself, and nobody would know that I might be a crazy little boy.
One day my friend, John, asked if I talk to myself. His mother had given him the same warning about such activity. He confided to me that he often talks to himself, both aloud and inside his head. I told John that I usually did the same thing. That afternoon, we pricked our right index fingers and became blood brothers with each others’ blood droplets.
I have an odd obsession with clocks and watches. I don’t own any antique clocks nor valuable wristwatches. They’re just average timepieces. I have four “weather station” type clocks that are each set by signals from the National Bureau of Standards radio. There’s a small collection of regular, non-descript wristwatches of one type or another. Today, I decided to wear one I’d forgotten about long ago.
It’s an old “Lord Nelson” wind-up watch. I think it was probably manufactured in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The chrome needs to be polished and the Twist O Flex bracelet band should be cleaned. I like that it is inscribed “Swiss Made”. It’s certainly not a Rolex. It’s much too funky and abused. But it keeps accurate time.
The watch sparked my mind into thinking about clocks and watches. Long-ago, the only way for an average person to read the time was to look at a clock in a church’s or public building’s tower. Think of the tower clock in London. The bells, not the clock are named “Big Ben”. I don’t think the clock faces have names. I have a small shelf full of old wind-up Westclox Big Ben alarm clocks. Their bells don’t sound anything like their famous namesake’s chimes.
Whereas, clocks were once very rare; now they are everywhere on nearly every device. Computers, phones, tablets, and gadgets all have clocks. Find the clock on your microwave range. A friend has a clock built into his refrigerator door. I suppose someone is worried that the homemaker might lose track of time while scrounging through the fridge?
Still, I come back to thought. I have thoughts about objects and people. I then form concepts about those thoughts by talking to myself about the objects and people. I can make myself upset or happy by the nature of my judgments about my conclusions and opinions formed by my self conversations about those objects and people. I have similar conversations with myself, about myself. I compare myself with other people. I wonder how often or even if they compare themselves with me.
My conclusions may or may not be important. It’s just enjoyable to observe and then assess my conclusions of the observations.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders if you’ve ever noticed how strange people can be.