Saturday, May 9, 2009

The soundtrack of your life

Friday May 1st

The very fist time I flew (on an aircraft) was probably when I was about 14 or so. I can't quite recall the year or exact age, but I know it was Florida bound. My father had a conference and in those days the feds could bring their family all -expenses paid.

That very first flight, I experienced the societal fear of flying that almost seems prerequisite to gaining a boarding pass. In all honesty I don't have a fear of flying (I write this even through some strange turbulence, also Florida bound). Air flight is still much safer than getting on any highway where at any given time there are hundreds of drivers any of which could be tired, drunk, irritated, angry, or just plain stupid.

So at 14 , long before I discovered that I do not actually have flight anxiety, I packed my favourite tunes. In the mid-to late 80s it was Madonna's True Blue cassette tape that helped ease my supposed nerves. Upon ascent I recall "Live to Tell" playing. As the aircraft climbed up above the the surface of the earth all bodies were pinned to the back of their seats during that initial moment where the plane is neither on the ground nor fully in the air. You know that moment: when we are all 45degrees to the earth.

Thankfully "Live to tell" was a fairly longer song (for the 80s) that as we reached the clouds it still played. This song, (as well as "Full Circle" my Lorraina McKennit) have become my flying songs. It's not that I need them to relax or that I've chosen them as my flight songs, but they've chosen me. That's the thing about soundtracks to different parts of our lives: we don't chose them, they chose us.

I didn't chose "Live to Tell" to trigger memories of flight and that first trip to Florida. Those experiences were embedded at that exact time, not 3 minutes later for the next song, but right then. It's from that uncontrollable moment of memory recording to the hyppocampus in which motivates this entry.

You see, under all the superfluous reasons that possibly impeded this trip from happening the subconscious fear percolated to that surface yesterday as I heard "Live to Tell" playing (car radio/I can't recall exactly where). At the point at which the song came on I was pretty sure that day that I was not Florida bound after all. By the end of the song I realized that if I go, I could really be on my last great trip of my life.

Who really wants to start that?

As exciting as it may have been to plan, to dream about, the moment you put your plans into action is the moment it already starts becoming the past. It's like this flight: the moment I walked on, I was that much closer to my destination. When I return home I may not ever have anymore vacations with my wife to look forward to. There's a quote I love that goes something like this: a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.

An increasing amount of life happenings are becoming past rather than future events to look forward to. I suppose that's what an elderly person of 75 or 80 goes through: not much left to look forward to in your own personal life (although there's always the grand kids, the lives of others to enjoy and celebrate). Except in my situation where I'm just getting to the good songs on the soundtrack of my life and the tape is running out (or the CD is reaching maximum capacity).

I believe in fate and meaning making. I believe there are no coincidences (yet I use the term all the time). I think it's really important for people to make meaning out of things, life. They might not always be the "right" interpretations but they are personal and thus what's right at the time and for that person.

I was brought to tears when I heard "Live to Tell" play last night because of the circumstances around that first trip: I was Florida-bound and it was my first ever. (There's something about firsts that always stay with you). I believe that this is my last (or one of my last) flight-trips in my life and I also choose to see a parallel: Florida-bound.

Perhaps my conclusions are premature. Perhaps my health will plateau and I'll come into money to fly (more) but I choose not to see those unlikely possibilities because of their statistical probabilities. This however doesn't mean that I'm closed to miracles. I've mentioned once before that I believe in letting miracles happen but I don't believe in depending solely on miracles.

In my meaning-making, I see this Florida-bound trip as a conclusion of sorts. It too brings me full-circle. (I'm not sure if I've written about the theme of full-circle and what that means to me yet but suffice it to say, one of my life philosophies has always been that you're born to do what G-d intended for you and that you're supposed to get to know yourself while doing it. The closer you are to knowing all of who and what you are, the closer you are to death. I don't mean 'know thy self' as in "I'm bitchy, I like blue, am lovable and love to control things" kind of 'know thy self' but a knowing that becomes connected to the bigger picture. For Jungians it would be akin to the self that connects back to the collective unconscious. For others it could also be called the self that came from and is connected back to spirit-self, G-dself.

That's what full-circle means to me. Florida opened my naive middle class teenage eyes to a bigger world in the 80s. In 2003 it personalized it by delivering evidence to my long-held arts-based theories. It also served as a reminder of how precious and special my gift has been. (I see my heart disease as a gift. I am angry to hell my lifespan is shortened, but I would not be who I am, was or will be, without it).
Perhaps at 36 Florida will bring me "full-circle". At this point I'm not sure what that means. I'm waiting for the plane to land, then I'll see...