I was recently on an evening flight from New York to Los Angeles. It was too dark to read a book (and I didn’t feel like using a light) so I decided to use the wifi that the airline bragged about virtually everywhere I looked. I asked someone about it and was told it’s just like any other wifi service. (I got a strange look as if the person thought I was an alien who didn’t know earthly ways). I gave the airline wifi carrier personal information even though I don’t like doing that, but I wanted to send an e-mail and possibly listen to music on youtube.
I couldn’t access the internet. I obeyed the rules and exchanged personal information for internet access, but the airline reneged. This was no surprise, of course, it made sense to me. Corporate Big Brother makes rules for others while subverting democracy to bypass rules intended to keep them in check.
I made a second attempt at access, then discovered something I should have noticed earlier, but was too busy thinking:
WIFI PASSES FROM GOGO ®
Already Have A Pass? High performance Satellite Wi-Fi onboard. Speed, usage and other limits may apply. View Details.
Monthly access on domestic Gogo equipped Delta flights.
DELTA AIR LINES PLAN
30 continuous minutes of internet access on this flight.
Internet access for the duration of this flight.
Oh. Oh well.
Later, I was asked which of the three meals I would like: a chicken salad, a cheese and fruit dish or a vegetable wrap with “fresh” fruit and an oatmeal cookie.
It was not a choice for me.
The cheese and fruit dish was out because the cheeses were sharp cheddar and pepper jack, two of the few cheeses (I know of) that I don’t like. The chicken salad was out because I don’t eat animals. I requested the vegetable wrap which sounded delicious. My mouth started to water as I thought of the eggplant, red pepper, red onion, carrot, zucchini, chick peas & sweet raisins topped with a vinaigrette and wrapped with spinach and edamame hummus in a green onion whole wheat tortilla. Then my stomach started growling at the thought of strawberries and grapes (I love fruit) and an oatmeal cookie without raisins (I like them in salads and wraps, but not in my oatmeal cookies).
There were no more vegetable wraps.
Disappointment. I accepted no replacement. I was offered no small snacks. It’s a good thing I brought an apple and some peanut butter. When asked about something to drink I requested water. I wasn’t given a bottle that I could put down and drink when I wanted, I was given a short wide (easy to spill during turbulence) cup that I had to hold. This made doing anything else (like eating peanut butter from a jar) difficult, which actually didn’t matter because I didn’t want to put on a light and disturb others so I could read and I couldn’t get online. So that was simple.
I would have listened to my own collection of music, but my mp3 player took a crap a while back so that youtube is my only option these days.
I stared out the window while I was still able to see land formations and clouds. I enjoyed the high altitude clouds which went by at fast speed. They were so faint they looked ethereal, like ghosts racing toward the Atlantic Ocean. But the low lying clouds were the stars of the Looking Out The Window Show. They covered most of the land at one point and took on the appearance of rolling hills of snow. I could easily imagine being in Alaska or Antartica or some other area of endless snow. Then, I thought of the Black Sabbath song Snowblind. Damn, I have no music. My mind was too busy.
I stared at the clouds again, breathed deeply and relaxed. This brought ancient memories of when I was a child and used a garbage can cover (fairly flat and made of metal) to slide down small hills in Winter or to tie to a bicycle with a rope and get an awesome ride through the streets, avoiding cars. That was so much fun (and sharpened awareness and peripheral vision). I realized that being a child can be magical. The world was so big, so amazing back then. It had so many mysteries to explore. There were so many places to see, so many things to do.
I wanted to play centerfield for the New York Yankees. That changed to wanting to play point guard for the New York Knicks. Then, I wanted to be an archeologist, then was determined to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana and write amazing music, touring the world. Hope was unlimited. Dreams seemed tangible. Everybody seemed to have a beautiful life ahead of them. We just needed to put effort into something we loved and the universe would provide opportunities.
The block I lived on was an adventure in itself. There were about fifty kids within a couple years of my age just in my little neighborhood. We played basketball, baseball, stickball, kickball, handball, football, stoopball, arranged obstacle courses, had bicycle races and even an occasional bicycle demolition derby (I got in trouble once or twice for those). Every day was an adventure. I would get off the bus after school and though I was only a couple minutes from home, could spend an hour talking, playing with baseball cards and running around by the time I made it there.
I had just received a refresher course in imagination and reliance on technological gadgets.
I thought about the blog posting on Smilecalm recently in which the differences in growing up between today and a few decades ago was discussed. I’m more “old school” than most people I know, but even I’ve gotten used to quick internet access, using a phone outside and “writing” on an electronic device with my finger! – instead of on paper with a pen or pencil. I don’t own a television, stereo or personal computer. I have a portable DVD player, but the power cord snapped and I haven’t replaced it. Yet, I can still listen to music, watch movies and television shows and have conversations with people across the planet with my iPad.
Technology has brought us many marvels. It is truly amazing to think about what we can do these days. But I have a confession. I’d trade it all for a little bit of that old magic.