Saturday, February 18, 2012

Past Deadline: A Flying Ramble

Do you ever have one of those days when you wonder who the heck you are and what the heck you are doing here?

No? Me neither. I am perfectly content and secure in who I am and what I am doing.


However, if I weren’t 100 per cent certain of my role on this Earth or if I ever once felt like throwing my arms up in the air and stomping up the stairs and slamming a door (which would never happen), I might think it’s time to become a novel-writing bush pilot.

I should clarify that. I don’t have a whole lot of interest in actually learning how to fly. It involves a great deal of math and physics and stuff. I would prefer to be a passenger and just write about the flying. I can write about pretty much anything – even math – as long as someone else is figuring it all out.

Anyway, the point is, sometimes life (for other people, I suppose, never me) gets busy and weird and noisy and I think it would be lovely to escape by flying in a little plane over forests and lakes and ancient mountains. Then I think about holing up in a cosy cabin in the woods writing piles of Great Canadian Novels™.

Yep – a novel-writing bush pilot. Or, rather, a novel-writing bush-pilot passenger.

A friend of mine is taking flying lessons and was pretty excited about landing a small plane for the first time recently. That got me thinking about flying in small planes and how thrilling it is.

My first time flying was in a fairly small plane, and I distinctly remember looking down as we went up towards the clouds and being astounded that such a heavy object could be supported by air. (The plane, not me.) It occurred to me that I could either choose to be terrified or enchanted. I quickly chose the latter.

Then my dad and I chatted about how much he loved working in Northern Ontario with the bush pilots when he started his career as a game warden. Perhaps it’s in the blood?

There is something really awesome about flying. I still find it amazing that we have figured out the physics and the mathematics to make it happen.

This reminds me also of a dream I used to have. It stood out from the annoying recurring nightmares I had as a kid (and sometimes around exam time) when I would dream I needed to call for help and couldn’t dial the right number (these were the days before 9-1-1 service) or that I would be trying to run away from something scary and holes would open up in the ground and swallow me up. (Okay, psychologists! On your mark...get set...go!)

Anyway, peppered amid those and the usual menagerie of nondescript dreams were the flying ones, and they were cool. In the dreams I would get off to a running start and flap my arms and suddenly find myself soaring like a bird, dipping and diving in the sky at great speed, without having wings or Icarus-like feathers. Those were the best dreams.

That would be a fantastic solution to my ongoing stupid foot problem, wouldn’t it? I could get around easily and all that arm flapping would be excellent exercise. Wouldn’t that solve a lot of transportation and pollution issues if humans could fly using their very own equipment?

Alas, humans are not anatomically built for flying, so I think (tangent alert!) NASA’s next task should be figuring out teleportation, just like on Star Trek. Never mind all this Mars stuff and Newt Gingrich’s loony lunar promise. I mean, really, is having a lunar base really going to do much to solve the world’s problems? Or even America’s problems? Maybe Newt’s problems....

Besides, if NASA figures out teleportation, then we can zoom wherever we need to be on the planet. Teleporting to the moon and to Mars would not be too far behind!

So, yeah. Umm...what is this column about? Oh, yes. Bad days and escaping by plane into the bush to write novels.

That’d be nice, eh?

Published in The Perth Courier, Feb. 9/12

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