Gate 63

‘flying away’

Such an alluring prospect, isn’t it?

As I sit at gate 63, waiting to board my Virgin Australia flight to Bali, I open my laptop and the Windows-generated landscape photograph is one of horses grazing in front of a mountainous backdrop.  It got me to wondering: what did people do to ‘fly away’ before there were planes in the sky?  Was jumping on the back of a horse and galloping off to pastures new considered in the same dreamy, romantic manner that aerospace travel is today?

horse-ii

I’m sat on the black leather chairs, across from Gate 63, thinking to myself: would I rather travel to a destination by aeroplane or by horseback?  Tough one to answer, given I’ve never ridden a horse.  Unless a short trip up and down a blustery Isle of Wight beach on a sad-looking donkey counts.

I don’t think it counts.

By contrast, I’ve been flown on a LOT of planes.  Before I moved to Australia, I spent 18 months doing weekly work visits to Dublin, as a result, I reckon I’ve clocked up well over 200 flights in my time.  How’s that for a carbon footprint…

I don’t mind flying, but I don’t particularly relish it either.  It’s a bit of a faff, the food holds no appeal, and I struggle to sleep sat in a plane seat.  That last drawback is obviously wonderful when you’re flying return from Sydney to London at least once a year.  Invariably I’m a stumbling, slurring mess as I touch down at Heathrow, partly due to the lack of sleep.  The combination of out-of-date Thai Valium and herbal sleep tablets, that I’ve chugged down with copious amounts of the free red wine may have something to do with it too though.

Sleep aside, the biggest challenge of air travel that I personally face – is trying not to buy a new pair of Raybans every time I pass through Duty Free.

Seriously, what is it about Sunglasses Hut that I simply cannot resist?

I am proud to announce that as I sit here, at gate 63, I am smug in the knowledge that I have succeeded in avoiding this latest temptation.  That’s not to say I didn’t pay Sunglasses Hut a visit to try on a few pairs first.  For me, trying on a pair of sparkly Raybans, and not buying them, is akin to a junkie being tickled with a loaded syringe, and opting to squirt it down the loo instead of his or her favoured, ravaged vein.

Plane food.  Meh.  For the most part, it’s garbage.  There has, however, been one exception, I had a delicious Singapore noodle dish on an Etihad flight to Thailand once, there was even stainless steel cutlery to accompany it.  I still think favourably towards that airline purely because of the quality of their spicy rice noodles.  Airlines spend fortunes on marketing campaigns and loyalty schemes to encourage increased passenger numbers.  I don’t know why they bother, just serve up some half decent grub and the punters will flock.  Can you imagine if you could get a steaming, crispy half-chicken, sweet potato fries, coleslaw and a buttery corn-on-the-cob, whilst travelling at 5000ft?  Nandos in the air. Sorry vegos, sign me up!

I am a picky eater.  Not because I have an immature palate, but because I have a compromised digestive system.  This fact makes the in-flight choice between the chicken and lamb rather easy.  Neither thanks.  Fortunately, this budget flight to Bali isn’t serving a complimentary hot meal, so I won’t have to put up with the concerned look on the flight attendant’s face as I politely decline the ‘tantalising’, foil-encased morsels.

When I flew to the UK last Christmas I didn’t eat any food for the 30 or so hours it takes to get from door to door, I just drank water.  It cracks me up how panicky us spoilt, first world types get when there’s a risk we can’t shove some carbohydrate-laden crap down our insatiable gobs every 3-4 hours.  I schnaffled down plenty of calories in the form of delicious roasted and salted macadamia nuts before I jumped on this plane (I’m now no longer at gate 63, I’m in the air, real time reporting here, kids).  Those nuts will keep me going until tomorrow if I need it to.  Heck, my body fat could keep me going until next month if things got really tough.  I’m going to write a dedicated post about the trials and tribulations of my diet journey, and the perks of fasting, at some point, so I’ll leave the rant for now.

Side note: I’m still waiting for Chris Rea to release the sequel to ‘Driving home for Christmas’.  Surely it’s needed in today’s globalized society.  ‘Flying home for Christmas’, when living in Australia, is essential if you want a ‘proper’ Christmas.  It just aint the same Down Under.  I fancy myself as a singer, maybe I’ll release a cover, when this blog has made me rich and famous enough to make it financially viable, of course.

I like to think that I’d rather travel by horseback than aeroplane, I mean, sure, it might be a touch uncomfortable, the journey times may be tad longer, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog post, or take a shit during a patch of gentle turbulence.  However, I reckon trotting along on the back of Rufus the Horse, taking in my surroundings, stopping at the occasional inn for a feed and a glass of mead…. hang on, did I just join a fellowship, on a quest to destroy the ‘one ring to rule them all’, to Mordor?  Would be considerably more interesting than staring at the back of the seat of the person in front of me.

Of course, I haven’t travelled anywhere by horse, so I can’t answer this question from a position of experience, but I’ve got some trapped gas at this very moment, probably from consuming too many macadamias.  Bouncing along on the back of a horse would definitely sort this.  Trumpety trump.

I think most people would disagree with me on opting for the horse.  I get it.  It’s 2018.  The time for horses has passed.  Us humans, we all want to get where we’re going as quickly as possible.  Why on earth would you undertake an epic, 5 week slog to complete a journey, which could be done in an hour on an aeroplane?

Well, the internet is awash with quotes droning on about the ‘journey’ being more important than the destination.  We all ‘know’ this, it’s just a shame ,that for the most part, we don’t KNOW THIS.  A lot of us haven’t foggiest how to properly enjoy life in the moment.  Maybe we do in the micro sense, i.e. sat in the garden on a summer’s day, enjoying a bbq with friends, but the macro is much harder to come to terms with.  We rush, eager to get to the next milestone, the next place, the next promotion, the next upgrade.

This insatiable appetite for progress is sometimes labelled ambition.  In today’s society, ambition is often a politer way of saying you want to earn more money.  Possibly so you can buy a bigger house, or a flashier car, so people will envy your nice house, and flashy car.

What a crock of shit all that is.

I used to label myself ambitious in this sense, I was on a constant drive to further my career, so I could earn more money.  Then I got sick, and all my priorities in life went all up side da head.  I am still ambitious.  More ambitious if anything, but my ambitions in life are very, very different now. Playing the game to reach the upper rungs of the corporate ladder is no longer my objective.  That’s not to say I’m going to quit my job and become a fulltime cowboy, riding my steed in the outback, blogging about Australia’s red centre.

No, my goals in life now revolve around ensuring my health, happiness, acceptance, of both myself, and others, and growth.

I’ll continue to work as I do: I’ve been in the project management game for a decade now. I know what to do, and how I can add value to an organization, ideally without working myself into the ground.  However, through the time and effort I’m investing in this blog, and the work I’ve been doing with an amazing life coach (shout out to Julie Rice @ www.thoughtcoach.com.au), I’m starting to identify other, loftier ambitions.

I know, I know!  I have a life coach.  What a w@nker!  It’s funny, but it’s true.  But, I ask you, why would you not want to work with someone who can provide a bit of guidance in this messy old existence that we call life?  Think you’ve got it all worked out?  LOL.

What’s all this got to do with horses and planes?  Well, it’s a metaphor, peeps.  I used to be all about the planes, now I’m more about the horses.  I’m learning how to take it slow, watching the scenery change about me as I trot along the highway of life, stopping for the odd chat with a fellow traveler.  Enjoying the ride, man.  The ambitions I currently have are small fry, but they amount to a better me.  A version with a deeper inner confidence.  When a bigger plan comes along, which I think it will, in time, that inner confidence is going to be paramount.

In the meantime, however, horses can’t swim to Bali, can they?

Bali
Classic British tourist. White pins. Stupid hat.  Liked the artwork.

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