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On The Wings of Luv (and Social Distancing)

When clients get stoked about their progress, expressing joy when they see the fruits of their labor, I always remind them to keep up the work that got them to this point. It’s somehow easier to meditate or journal or engage in grounding exercises when you’re desperate and searching for a salve (even though these kinds of coping mechanisms happen to have longer-term benefits, too). It’s far less easy to remember to do such things when you’re feeling on top of the world – what’s there to “fix” if everything’s going swimmingly? But the point of a spiritual or self-care practice is just that: practice. Athletes don’t simply show up on game day and play. They train whether they’ve won or lost the previous game, whether they're feeling like they're on or well underneath their shit. One practices so that one maintains, rather than riding an up-and-down rollercoaster that will inevitably result in some kind of vomit, whether emotional or literal.

The same way I work with clients on releasing attachment to their sorrow and fear, I work with them to release attachment to their happiness and excitement. After all, none of these are permanent, nor do they make one who they are, and anyway, as the second of the four noble truths says, “The cause of suffering is attachment.” After I obtain my Psy.D. or PhD., I'm going to change my last name to Killjoy, so that I can then be "Dr. Killjoy." "Dr. Uy Killjoy."

I’m reminded of this now as I sit on a Southwest plane to San Francisco, overjoyed and nearly moved to tears. Flying during QT is bringing me SO. MUCH. HAPPINESS. I’m drowning in glee, and I’m somehow only now beginning to see why the tiniest cloud passes before my clients’ faces when I inadvertently pop their happiness bubble with reminders that this, too, will pass, and that they should maintain the good work. Well, fuck that. I want this forever! I want every flight to be like this! Every travel experience! See? Attachment. Because in 6 years when things go back to normal, I'm going to be upset.

But before I go into the reasons for my overwhelming stoke, I would be remiss if I neglected to address the fact that I did have concerns about flying mid-pandemia. But after consulting the oracle and my soul and receiving validation from a few germaphobes, I felt released of any anxiety. Onward!

1) No traffic. It is immediately and acutely apparent to me how much less stress I feel in my body when I’m not dealing with traffic or my traffic-related anger. I'm not in a constant state of hyperarousal. I can breathe deeply. I'm aware of my breath! My trapezius muscle isn't mangled underneath my supple and tan skin (who knows what it'll look like in 30 years). Thanks also to sensorimotor psychotherapy training for showing me how to tune dafuq into my body and its responses and either recalibrate or go deeper into anxiety.

2) Far fewer flyers. Alliteration allows amphasis. Misspelling misallows. Ha ha ha ha ha. Anyway. I would never deign to refer to myself as an “empath” or a “sensitive being,” or what have you, but energy is energy, and whether or not you’re aware of it, it affects you. Decreasing the collective energy of many harried travelers to a fraction of the usual makes me feel the same kind of giddiness as when 85% of the class is on a field trip that I didn't want to go on and I get to doodle or play duck-duck-goose with the 4 other classmates left, which makes me realize I have always been okay not being around people. Just kidding I have known this for a long-ass time.

3) Social distancing. I don’t like to think of myself as the kind of psychopath person who takes advantage of others' fear. But if we’re calling a spade a spade, then sure, I will capitalize on society's justified cautiousness/undue paranoia for as long as I possibly can. No overcrowding, no rushing to get a seat. People don't want to accidentally touch each other or breathe each other's anything right now. I used to energetically stretch my arm so that my carry-on went as far behind me as possible so as not to have my back area encroached on. Today, the urge was there, but when I turned around, there was 6 feet of freedom. (I will say, though, that I noticed that disembarking the plane made people forget that they didn't want to be near each other.)

4) And more social distancing. One person for each row of 3... 130 open seats. You do the math, because I don't know how many people can fit on a 737 and I can't function within 10 feet of numbers without a calculator.

5) Everything is so obviously clean: No peanut crumbs or other bumba clot crumbs. No trash. Most people wiping down their seats, even though my wipes are alcohol free, but the placebo effect means something to me. Cleanliness is next to godliness, after all, and did you know that early Protestants took this to mean they should create a monopoly in the soap market?

6) No conversation. Don't get me wrong. I've had some of the most beautiful, insightful, raw conversations on planes. That was when I first started flying. Now, I'd rather talk to myself. Silently. In my head. While I'm sleeping.

7) And on this particular flight, a bit of turbulence! I’m not obsessed with roller coasters, but I appreciate the fright and the internal moving about inside of me. I also get excited when earthquakes hit, which makes me think I have some kind of disaster fetish, but then again, I'm not into the idea of house fires or major floods, so the jury's out on my diagnosis.

In conclusion, the best time to fly is when you're not supposed to fly.


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