Most people, when I ask them what they’d do if they had more time and money, say that they would travel more. I wonder how many people truly mean it. I wonder how many people, when actually given more time and money, would actually “travel”. Where would they go? What would they do? What would they be afraid of leaving behind? What excuses would they say to stay put?
Every so often I get the inner desire to run away from everything. The other night, in my bed, I had this fleeting plan to move somewhere far, far away, where I could just reset and live in a place where I could be a complete stranger, where no one would ask, “Aren’t you that guy who shit himself in Singapore?” More often than not, though, I have this strong urge to stay where I am. To take care of things. As if the lives of everyone I know would become undone if I didn’t stay around to dance like a monkey.
I’d panic if I went to a place where I couldn’t check my phone every three hours. If I can’t check my phone after a day I’d probably die. Other people will die. Wars will start. The terrorists will gain an advantage. Half of the universe will disintegrate. A life without a phone and steady internet connection is a life not even worth thinking about. I need the dopamine rush of constantly replying to messages. I need the feeling of control. I need to latch on to the idea that constantly using my phone means I’m being more productive, that I’m a more important person by repeatedly checking my emails.
I like being in airplanes because I have an excuse to not check my phone. I have an excuse not to read the news, or read my emails, or go on social media, or receive phone calls or even buy anything. If someone angrily asks me where I’ve been, I can just say, “I was flying.” If get the urge to check social media, I can just tell myself, “I’m flying.”
Imagine if you woke up and had the ability to fly. Wouldn’t you like to fly? Wouldn’t it be wonderful? If I flew, what would happen is I’d have fun for five minutes. Then, I’d look down. I’d remember I have work to do. I’d remember that I need to check my emails. I’d land back on the ground, rush to my phone and see who’s contacted me with an important YouTube video or meme.
I had the noblest intentions on my flight to Thailand. I was going to sit down for the next six or so hours and simply work on my next book. As I pulled out my MacBook I saw a sign on the screen in front of me. The sign said, “Free Wi-Fi now available in flight”. Free Wi-Fi in an airplane. How truly magnificent is technology! I connected to the Wi-Fi, checked my emails and replied to them. I closed my MacBook and checked my phone for any new iMessags, Instagram messages, Snapchat messages, Facebook messages, WhatsApp messages, Pinterest messages and Tumblr messages, and I replied to all of them as diligently and patiently as I could. And if someone hadn’t contacted me, I made sure to reach out to them to start an entertaining conversation. Then, when I became tired of chatting to people, I watched the free in-flight entertainment. It was the most productive flight I’d ever been in.