I’m sitting in seat 25C of United Airlines flight 803, an aisle seat of a Boeing 777 flying at 34,000 feet (okay, the map actually says 33,999 but who’s counting?) somewhere west of Saskatoon heading towards Edmonton then Juneau on the way to Tokyo.
Looking at the map (if you count flying) this trip will combine the farthest north, the farthest south, and the farthest west (by a long shot) I have travelled. Well, even if you discount the flying part, the latter two milestones still stand. Of course, since I can’t actually see anything out the windows, we could still be trundling along the tarmac at Dulles for all I know.
It’s an interesting feeling sitting here. It’s a Zen kind of freedom, an enforced absence of agency that is liberating. I will be sitting here for another ten or so hours, take a short break, then sit for another eight hours. It’s like sitting in the dentist’s chair or being called for jury duty. No one is going to give you grief for doing it, there’s nothing that can supersede it or preempt it (as far as I can imagine) and it will be over when it is over.
A can full of several hundred souls, bathed in white noise and a weird miasma of each other’s emanations. Watching the cabin crew, it seems like the world’s most poorly designed restaurant and nobody tips.
It’s not like a vacation, it’s not like a meditation. But there's no phone service or Wi-Fi, ergo no phones to answer, no calls to return, no emails to answer, no problems to be fixed. No tasks I should be doing that I am not doing, no obligations to my fellow man that are going untended. It is, until we land, the highest calling.
We get a meal of eggs, sausage and some poorly-defined vegetable thing at around 1:30 AM body time. It is our third meal of the flight, the first being something and the second being something else. This oddly timed meal only serves to make me feel like I should be drunk in a booth at an IHOP somewhere after a long night of carousing and dancing. It is still light outside the windows, so time has lost all meaning, and when we arrive in the Land of the Rising Sun, the sun is setting.