I love airports.
They are a nice place to shatter your preconceived notions about life around the world. Not necessarily so that you can scream in your blog about the great leveller, whether first-world or third-world – the fundamentals of people in transit don’t change, but to know, for your own consumption. People from all over the world share that space for a short time and take off in multiple directions in a span of two or three hours. Airplanes, like thoughts, come and go in every direction, carrying with them people: some happy, some stressful, some sad and more often than not, just tired minds and bodies; carrying with them the additional burden of thoughts of the people they carry.
We never see the many worlds we live in and pass through.
In today’s uncertain and suspicious times, airport navigation has become stressful, no denying that. Somehow, I prefer that to the misery of an undesirable event on an airplane that I am on. Stressful, however is only as stressful as we make it. Ninety-five out of a hundred times, I have been able to cross through the queue without incident. (There should be a saying, ‘the moment you utter your luck it goes away’). All you need to do is do what they say. I see people make it just stressful for themselves by insisting on doing their own things – applying opinion as logic against a defined process. They are the rebels with their useless causes with their later belligerent conversations. Small victories that assert their pointless argument about a twisted personal logic of managing security. The person on the other side of the x-ray monitor doesn’t derive devilish pleasure for the harassment that is not. If you aren’t too busy stressing yourself out – see her face, read what’s on her mind.
Cooperation gets a completely new meaning.
Our inability to see beyond the x-ray machines and security cameras and process restrictions inhibits a good moment at the airport. See the slow arrival of the metal beast at the gate through a thick glass that trembles at the beast’s roar. See the nose of the aircraft in isolation, you might find it childishly cute. See the family at the other corner of the seating area and the children playing with their aircraft inside the airport on the carpeted tarmac. See the strong hands on the cement tarmac outside loading your overweight bags in the belly of the beast. See the uniformed sports team from Augustana College bound for Milan. See a few of your co-passengers getting in touch with friends, family and workmates on phone and free wireless; see the silent ones getting in touch with themselves. See the smiles in-spite of everything.
Our preconceived notions and belief in misery cloud our eyes and line of sight.
If you didn’t have a camera at hand and wanted to carry a picture with you, so that someday, three years later, you would like to come back to that same chair, and congratulate your past-self about a promise you made today, will you be able to confine that image to memory? That image of the strong black vertical and horizontal black metal frame holding clear glass, dotted with rain through which you saw the sturdy aircraft preparing itself for the long haul, just like you, preparing yourself for your personal long haul. The grey-blue of sky cut through a straight line of green on the ground far away. The scissor hi-lift loading food and the conveyor belt loading the baggage for the journey. That image of you on a cushion-less leather chair near Gate 13 at Barbara Jordan Terminal in Austin, TX, cross-legged, chin resting on your hand, elbow delicately balanced on a thin armrest, an open notebook with scribbles ambitious of being the words that will be your history someday. Will you be able to confine that image to permanent memory?
Your camera can capture all that you can see, never capture how you see yourself.
I love airports.