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How to Pass the Time on a Flight

I Fly, Therefore I Think

There is no question that some people travel so often, that perhaps my advice on how to pass time on a long flight may sound absurd. But it works for me, and I would like you, dear reader, to consider it next time you fly.

Besides my favorite in flight pass time, I find reading a very constructive way to pass the time. Unless I am already committed to a book, I will have several, as I don’t want to be stoned out if that one’s book I brought is not one I can get engrossed in. Becoming engrossed in a book is the 2nd best thing to do to pass the time away. Why second? Keep reading, you’ll see my reasoning. And I do hope you will agree, and not be disappointed. Oh, by the way, I very heartily recommend bringing a selection of short stories. Long books are great, if they can keep your attention, but short stories are good, because they fill your mind with word pictures like nothing else. Among others I particularly love O. Henry, James Joyce, and Balzac. Just thinking of having a copy of short stories written by Honor de Balzac brings back wonderful memories of flights to distant lands.

And sleep. Ahh. Of course, you have to have mental fortitude to sleep on board an airline sometimes, given the cramped quarters. When I am so cramped up in a seat with no way to really get comfortable, I do think of the time I was headed overseas from New York to Milan and the aircraft was almost empty. The airline had ten seats across; three left, three right, and four center seats. I was seated right next to four empty seats! Right after takeoff I claimed them; I laid down and got eight hours of sleep, when I landed in Milan I was as fresh as ever I was on a Transatlantic flight.

But now I tell you my little secret. Perhaps a disappointment to some, although I hope not.

I use the time, not to sleep, not to read, but to think. I sit back with eyes closed, and just think. I think for hours. I think, first of all, that I am blessed to be able to go on a trip. I think about how many years man wanted to be able to fly, and here I am fulfilling that dream. I think of how long and what it took to cross the vast ocean that I am flying over. I think of the sailors that left home for a year or more, just to sail the distance that I will cover in eight short hours.

Thinking clears my mind. It is meditation of sorts: it is much needed clearing out of my thoughts that I don’t get the chance to do in everyday life. And it strange, on board an airline seems one of the best places in the entire world for me to really air out my thoughts as I want. I sit back with eyes closed, listening to the din around me, the stewardesses, the passengers, the hum of the engines. I am very conscious of what I am doing, and how important it is for me to air out my thoughts. I think of thousands of things. My mind explodes in vivid color, and no one around me has a clue. I feel like I am the most aware person in that airline, because I think. I will have a note pad or my palm pilot close at handfor jotting down notes to catch that idea before it escapes! This time aloft is a very special time; it is very different from any other time I may have a chance to sit back, close my eyes and think. It is as if I have a specific reason to be in that obscure airline seat, and that is to think. Sometimes back at home, I may close my eyes and wish I was on board an airliner streaming through the sky so that I could clear my thoughts!

Yes, I tell you the truth. I love to read, and sleep is great. But on my last trip, I didn’t read a single book, and I barely got any real sleep. But I did a lot of thinking. And I like to believe that the time spent on board that jet was well put to use.