When I was 8, flight was adventure. I got on the plane to Constanta with my mother, dutifully ate my candy to keep the pressure changes from hurting my inner ear, and marveled at the view from the windows. The way perspective broadened and people and details became blurry and smaller until all you could see was the broad strokes of a landscape directly appealed to me. Whenever I teach, I still use the imagery as an illustration of stepping back to see the big picture.
When I was 16, flight was exploration. I was flying for the second time in my life, a 10 hour trip to New York for summer school. The flight was the break between my reality in Romania, and the US fantasy shaped by all those movies and series. It was before the US-Ro trek was a beaten one, and flying had a sense of exclusivity. I remember we drove the attendants crazy because of our constant calls for the free soft drinks. And there, too, was candy.
At 24, flight was entitlement. I used to fly to conferences and events and I felt privileged and rewarded for being in the elite category that “flew for business”. I resented my no-name bag, my clothes that almost always seemed inappropriate, or wrinkled, or too warm or too cold. In time, I learned, but then, flight was something you did with purpose and poise, and the right outfit.
At 32, flight was a quiet hour. An extra hour of sleep in the early morning, on my way to some city where a day of meetings awaited, an extra hour of thinking in the afternoon, of following up on the work of the day.
I wonder what it will be at 40. I’m not rushing to find out though.
But the also have to do with the commoditizing of the majority of goods and experiences that used to be exciting and exclusive, and which are increasingly available for purchase.
In an article in Flacara, famous Romanian aviator Aurel Vlaicu, says:
Therefore, I believe that aviation will only succeed to be a very enjoyable sport for fine weather. It can never develop as much as cars or boats. And it is natural that it won’t. To fly, man must conquer regions for which he is not intended, by means that do not belong to him.
And yet today, we are paying for those means, and they belong to us.
There is a lesson in product life-cycles right there. And an even bigger one in humanity.