Levels of Turbulence
When babies in the cabin are silent but adults are screaming, then you know your airplane is going through some serious turbulence.
This year I’ve been flying around a lot — most of the pictures in this post were taken over various parts of North America — and the text of this post is being written on an overnight flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, a little while after experiencing intense, gut-wrenching air turbulence.
Since I’m not going back to sleep anytime soon, I might as well capture the moment, or rather, series of moments… this one of those scenarios where things got progressively and measurably worse and worse. The following is a reconstruction of what was going through my head at every stage of the progression… Level 1 is just your average “wake up sleeping passengers” variety of turbulence…
Level 1) Ugh..what…I need to sleep… this sucks
Level 2) This really sucks, because I’m totally awake now. How am I going to get into the Sydney timezone and get work done if I don’t sleep?
Level 3) The side-to-side movement of the plane is making the fluid in my stomach and internal organs slosh around, as if someone is stirring a pot inside me.
Level 4) Dude.
Level 5) I’m noticing that I only have a lap belt, not an over-the-shoulder restraint like the flight attendants do. My body is moving fully separately from the seat underneath me.
Level 6) Now reconsidering whether I should go back and start making appeals to a Higher Power… it’s been a while… wait, which form of Higher Power would I be appealing to? ..and what’s the format and strategy for my appeal? Thoughts of loved ones.
Level 7) People are screaming. Yup, tihs just got real.
Level 8) Focus. Doing a quick review of how exactly I’m bracing my arms and legs, getting into a better position. This fancy wearable neck-pillow thing may be useful as protective gear. Mentally rehearsing the full set of safety procedures.
Level 9) Detaching. Relaxing my mind. These are matters beyond my control. A soothing voice suddenly start singing a familiar tune over and over in my head…
“Plant Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do…”