Flying and Crying
With so many teary Oscar acceptance speeches this week, I thought I’d examine another emotional spectacle: Crying at 30,000 feet. For some people, it just comes easier. It’s even an expected part of the sounds of take-off: engines roar, wheels retract, bins shuffle, and babies cry. And cry and cry and cry. It’s the ear pressure, the strange environment, and probably a little of mommy or daddy’s nervousness, but, for the most part, when babies cry most passengers accept the noise without too much aggravation.
But, as you might have noticed, babies aren’t the only ones crying on the plane.
In my personal experience as a fairly frequent flier, I’ve noticed that some adults do, too. They try to hide it, but they’re the ones clutching at their Kleenex, shoulders silently heaving, and turned into the window wiping tears off their faces hoping no one will notice. Or, they’re the ones with the headphones on watching the movie all wide-eyed and gushing into their cocktail napkin.
It makes sense though, right? So much of travel is poignant and brings up so many ends and beginnings. There are long good-byes and emotional reunions. There is the call of the familiar and the fear of the unknown. There’s the presence of strangers in somewhat intimate proximity. There’s the fact that we’re all by ourselves sitting in aluminum tube way up in the middle of the air and are removed from the people and places that bring us comfort.
And as adults we so rarely find ourselves in a vacuum with little to no distractions. It’s no surprise that when we find a little uninterrupted time to think, life’s emotions start to play out with a little more force than they do on the ground.
There are some theories that explain the “crying and flying” phenomenon from a purely physical standpoint. Our eyes are already working hard to produce extra tears and moisture in a dry environment, so it’s no surprise that our tear ducts are overactive.
Do you find that you get more easily emotional on the plane? What do you think this is all about?
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Owen Lipsett.
My name: Rachel Berg.
Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.
View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.
Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.
Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.