39,000 Feet Of Ideas, Or How To Solve The World's Problems
It has always struck me as odd, these thoughts and the flow of ideas that go through my mind when spending hours above 30,000 feet traveling at 650 miles per hour. Is there something about the pressurized cabins, cramped seats and music in my headphones that causes these streams of consciousness to materialize within my gray matter?
For the past 15 years I have spent most weeks flying to and fro throughout North America... Phases that include what amounts to jet powered commuting and at other times what seems like being on tour, traveling from one performance to the next... Getting up on stage, setting up, delivering my performance followed by tearing it all done, dinner with new or old friends... Or both. Back to the airport and on to the next gig on the schedule... The next city and more new friends.
These days, travel has become much more annoying and lot less convenient. The farce that is TSA and "Security Checkpoints" makes me realize that Bin Laden may be dead, but he won. Americans now have self inflicted restraints on our freedoms that would make any Taliban or Al Qaida leader proud. Watching the interaction between novice travelers and TSA employees saddens me... The way so many people accept authoritarianism seems to encourage and embolden these government drones into treating the citizenry with an ever increasing degree of disrespect and disdain. The whole TSA system reminds me of the university research showing how the most placid of students become power mongers and sadists when given such control over the administration of pain and punishment over others.
Then there is the inevitable drama of frozen moisture due to super cooled fuel, Air Traffic Control holds, equipment malfunctions, wind shear, storms, lack of gate availability and a myriad of "SNAFU" situations that permeates air travel. The result being a distinct hesitation to predict arrival times on the part of most frequent travelers, including me. Relegating us to limbo status when it comes to consideration of plans and activities at our destinations on days or arrival. A chronic situation that results in a distinct tendency to avoid scheduling commitments. The same types of commitments that create the need to travel in the first place! But perhaps the most fascinating part of all this time being voluntarily jammed into long aluminum tubes that shoot through the air at rates exceeding the land speed record are the intimacies with the other people as we rub against and press our thighs together with on airplanes. It is really amazing that homophobes can tolerate plane travel at all! To spend so many hours should to shoulder, hip to hip pressed against another man or woman in a manner that approaches the intimacy, and at times exceeding how much we touch the loved ones we share our home bound beds with!
I know these relationships mean something because when I am getting on a plane with travelers I have flown with in the past, we save seats for each other and genuinely enjoy the conversations around each other's family matters and business challenges. On many occasions I have flown with plane buddies and had lunch or dinner with them while waiting for our next flight, at times boarding the same connecting flight to our mutual destination. The inevitable exchange of business cards morphs into the occasional email... Sometimes an invitation to a multi level marketing seminar, social network or even the occasional party. The pondering and musings that happen at 39,000 feet and 650 miles per hour seem distinctly different than while stationary on the ground... Thoughts and inspirations seem to have more weight... More reality... Greater potentiality. Business plans formed at high speed and altitude are more Rube Goldberg contraption like in their complication and moving parts. Yet, at high speed and altitude every problem seems easier to resolve... Plans that normally seem preposterous become seemingly more executable when viewed from the perspective of 6 miles high and moving at barely sub-sonic speed.
This brings me to what should be an obvious conclusion... The world's leaders should meet and discuss trade relations, world peace and the resolution of armed conflicts on a Boeing 747 at 39,000 feet while cruising at 660 miles per hour. I am convinced the agreements reached would transcend anything they would otherwise come up with while stationary on the ground.