On Crashing

Flying in a plane is pretty simple, really. If you’re a coach flyer, it’s cramped and stuffy, the person next to you is too big, the one behind you too small, and somewhere nearby a baby (who dislikes this flying thing, too) is crying.

When I have the option, I always choose the window seat. I always regret this choice, but takeoff is the only part of the flight I seem to consider when I’m purchasing my tickets. There’s a moment that I want to witness: unbelievably small wheels making contact with the ground, an aluminum monster becoming airborne, thirty rows of people doing something we were just never designed to do.

As takeoff finishes and I sit back for what promises to be a long ride, I consider the only two songs I know about planes: “Plane” by Jason Mraz, and “At the Very Bottom of Everything” by Bright Eyes. The latter isn’t even about planes, but Conor Oberst—in what was surely a marijuana-induced stupor—created an introduction for the song that takes place in a plane. Also, the song's music video depicts the last moments of a plane crash.

Similarly, the chorus of “Plane” refers to a plane crash, but the crash never occurs, and its action is nothing more than a vessel for Mraz’s emotions. When the plane goes down, I’ll remember where the love was found—he’s flying away from his life in this plane. How could that not end in death, the last great adventure? 

The plane has never crashed, so it’s a little easier to think of these things. My dad was in a plane crash, but it was a crash landing, and everyone walked away. They were a little shaken, but fine otherwise. A plane crash is another reminder that we are achieving the unachievable. And when the plane does not crash, when I arrive at my final destination, I am not at the last great adventure. I am at a stuffed terminal, or an overly long layover, with my adventure waiting past the luggage claim, past customs, outside the airport doors. 


Emily resides in Spokane, WA.  She wrote this piece while studying abroad in Costa Rica with Whitworth University.  She has flown to four countries as final destinations and touched down on three continents, and expects that there will be many flights to come.


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