Dinosaurs

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Except on a rare one or two occasions when I've been lucky enough to  fall asleep before we pull away from the gate, I’ve always been inclined to  watch the attendants give their pre-takeoff safety talk. In part, I pay  attention because theirs is a thankless job and it’s a small attempt to  show appreciation for their efforts to make me comfortable. Perhaps I pay attention because I had good teachers at school and home who taught me to be respectful  by listening. And maybe I pay attention because on  my first flight as a wide eyed 6th grader, I found these women of the  skies a little glamorous and fascinating.

It’s also a  most definite possibility that my attention comes from the deeply rooted  and highly functioning Dinosaur Brain nestled between my ears that does  not, cannot!, and despite all engineering and scientific evidence,  refuses to understand how planes stay in the sky. This bajillion ton  metal beast is going to float in the air?!!? Bullshit, says Dinosaur Brain,  and just keeps on talking….Oh gawd…. The pilot just came on the  intercom, and he sounds so gravelly. Did he have enough coffee, is his  eyesight still good despite sounding anciently old, did he get enough  sleep? If a plane were to crash would you feel pain or would you just  black out? Will my head implode or explode suddenly if the cabin  pressure makes a dramatic change!?!? AAACK!! WHY AM I HEEEEEERE?!?

I  have always counteracted my alarm-happy Dinosaur Brain with the observational evidence that if the flight attendants are calm, collected  and pleasant, it means that all systems must be working as they should. So  keep an eye on those gals/guys for changes in demeanor. If ever an  attendant were to panic and lose her/his shit, well, that would be a  different set of evidence and Dinosaur Brain would win.

Why  some of us are more “in tune” with the D-Brain or less, I don't know.  Is it a gender thing? A result of our upbringing and the activities our  parents did/did not allow us to do and how we followed orders or  rebelled? Birth order? Job title? Astrological sign? Whether we prefer  Mozart or Rage Against the Machine? Does it matter?

Mine  is a highly active D-Brain. Here I sit on my flight to  Atlanta, four hours and five minutes long trying to rationalize my Dinosaur back into its cave (Dinosaurs are like Dragons and  fire breathing Dragons live in caves, right? Right. )

Not  unlike climbing unprotectable off-widths, entering a steep chute of  deep pow on skis that are too long, cross-country hiking without map or compass,  driving home at 2am just as the frat-packed bar down the street closes  or going on a first – or third - date, while flying D-Brain just won’t  shut the hell up. Chatterbox. And sometimes I just like to  sweetness of silence, the space of quiet. I have no problem riding in a  car or sitting next to someone on the couch in silence, reading a book,  looking out the window, mining belly button lint.

There  have been a lot of good posts and conversations lately about the great  output of D-Brain’s efforts: fear. Getting over it, supporting one  another in it, how to manage and deal. They’ve been helpful to read,  I’ve learned, felt camaraderie, been reassured.

But  maybe we are (read: I am) thinking too hard. The D-brain is there for a  reason after all; to keep us from diving face first into a mesmerizing,  warm campfire on a frozen night, or launching off the top of a peak to  fly with the birds without so much as a wingsuit to catch our fall.

Why  not let the D-Brain be there without putting incessant pressure on  ourselves to ditch it? Maybe the D-brain just wants to be invited to the  party, to be included and to belong. Maybe it will shut up already, if  we acknowledge its voice and presence. Maybe that’s why it keeps yapping  so freaking loud. What would be the worst that would happen anyways, if  we invited it to the crag, into the backcountry or to sit in the empty  seat next ours on this jumbo, way-bigger-than-the-little-green-house  jet?

Ok, fine, D-Brain, hello, yes I heard you, welcome  to flight 2951. Here we are at 20,000feet, crap that would be a long  ways to tumble if we trip, so let’s keep our feet steady. I could use a  hand to hold right about now, maybe I can hold yours? Then I wouldn’t  have to dig my fingers into this shoddy armrest. Is this a Boeing plane?  Gotta support the home team. Gawd I hate turbulence, you too? We have  so much in common. Sorry for squeezing so tight. But I feel better, how  about you?