I have written before of my business travels to Helsinki but this is the first time I am going in the winter. I am writing this on board the Finair flight. I expect darkness and a cold air but it’s going to be interesting to me. I imagine that any photographs will be of limited use (given that I will be in offices during daylight hours).
The Finair flight is usually very good except for their inability to give me any kind of e-ticket on the London/Helsinki route and, in one easy move, reduce my stress about losing tickets. The flight is about three hours long and gives me the chance to stop and think. I generally travel alone and fellow passengers are not always the greatest conversationalists so I am able to enjoy the relative silence. I tend not to listen to music on flights and so I read. I read work papers and things I printed from the web; I read books and newspapers but, above all, I read them and think for a while.
Today, however, is the first time that I think I have been able to appreciate that time. I’m not sure why I have not noticed this feeling before. My brain suddenly seems uncluttered: there is none of the normal chaos to distract me. No television, no radio and no web-access to stimulate my thoughts in a hundred million directions. No commuters or people to annoy, frustrate or distract me. No, for this brief period, my brain has wandered in the directions it has wanted to and it is a strangely liberating experience.
Earlier this year I also mentioned that I find flying a strange experience. I have done it so much for work (and much, much less for pleasure) that it should be like taking a bus. I do not lie awake at night worrying about a journey and have discovered that the art to staying relaxed in airports is to give yourself time. I don’t really mind where they sit me – as long as I can stow my bag – and I am used to many of the strange noises a plane makes. Yet this exterior of calm hides an absolute fear every time we hit the tiniest pocket of turbulence. Regardless of how many stray air-pockets I have flown through I know my blood pressure must rise alarmingly when the plane shakes.
And so, despite the relative freedom my mind has to wander and wonder on today’s flight, it is regularly brought back to reality at every minor shake of a plane.