Saturday, May 8, 2010

So...the Styrofoam Cup

When I fly alone, I rarely talk to anyone. In the airport I drink coffee, read and peruse through various stores (carefully pacing myself during long layovers). On board the aircraft, I will exchange pleasantries with the people sitting near me on my flight but I will avoid being engaged in an actual conversation if I can help it. I request an aisle seat, I wear headphones and generally watch TV for the whole flight. I've always found it difficult to sleep on planes. All this lends itself to many hours of reflection and inner thought. I discuss things with myself. I silently comment about the people I watch. I complain inside my mind about interruptions to my media of choice. I replay conversations and revisit situations.

The turning point is when the flight attendant serves drinks. It seems that there is something about coasting along 37,000 feet above sea-level that triggers a mysterious mechanism in the universal passenger subconscious that makes salted peanuts the most desirable entrée this side of In & Out cheeseburgers and a half-cup of Canada Dry the finest carbonated beverage on (or above) planet earth.

But I always ask for coffee on the plane partly because I enjoy coffee but mainly, and this is a little odd, because drinking a half-serving of substandard coffee from a Styrofoam (UK: polystyrene) cup always provides me with a sober moment of reality and perspective. In those few moments of lukewarm enjoyment I always find myself staring at the bottom of the cup after every sip. I laugh at myself for the things I once thought mattered, I recall dreams and plans that I made days, weeks, months or years ago but that never came to fruition. I think of the future, the opportunities ahead. In just a few moments I realign my concerns and desires. I feel as though the world stops for a moment, a moment that is always contemplative, serious but tremendously positive.I'm left staring at the bottom of the empty, coffee stained Styrofoam cup. I smirk, breathe a short laugh at myself and then get back to not talking to people.

I wont share my thoughts of that recent moment here but will perhaps encourage you to take a Styrofoam cup moment every now and then.

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